How China has beat the US in the battle for rare earths

Bradley Prior

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How China has beat the US in the battle for rare earths

It was Beijing’s decision almost 30 years ago to make rare earths a strategic material, and ban foreigners from mining them, that helped pave the way for China to elbow aside the U.S. as the world’s leading producer.

In the intervening period, as China tightened control of domestic output of rare earths -- a broad group of 17 elements used in everything from electric vehicles to military hardware -- the U.S. all but surrendered to China’s dominance of the sector. [Bloomberg]
 

Joseph matane

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Guys let me ask is it possible for South Africa to create second economy using what we have in ICT space? I mean try to copy China's electronics strategies to grow SA economy maybe even use our own minerals we produce here ?
 

Pegasus

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Guys let me ask is it possible for South Africa to create second economy using what we have in ICT space? I mean try to copy China's electronics strategies to grow SA economy maybe even use our own minerals we produce here ?
We have plenty

https://www.moneyweb.co.za/mineweb/sa-closer-to-producing-valuable-rare-earth-minerals/

The Steenkampskraal ore body is considered to contain the largest known reserve of rare earth minerals, estimated to exceed 605 000 tons of ore containing an average of 14.4% rare earth minerals.
 

ToxicBunny

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Guys let me ask is it possible for South Africa to create second economy using what we have in ICT space? I mean try to copy China's electronics strategies to grow SA economy maybe even use our own minerals we produce here ?
Entirely possible...

But it would mean aligning so many things, that it would be practically impossible to pull off really....
 

Blue Shirt

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Some confidence in the rule of law, government actually being interested in growing the economy (koff* labour laws * koff) and private ownership would also be helpful.
 

TooFastTim

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Guys let me ask is it possible for South Africa to create second economy using what we have in ICT space? I mean try to copy China's electronics strategies to grow SA economy maybe even use our own minerals we produce here ?
Developing rare-earth derived industries was proposed 20 odd years ago but the idea fell on deaf ears.
 

Gudnews

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Some confidence in the rule of law, government actually being interested in growing the economy (koff* labour laws * koff) and private ownership would also be helpful.
I'm not challenging your position. Can you give me some examples of the kind of labour laws you want to see in layman's terms?
 

Blue Shirt

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I'm not challenging your position. Can you give me some examples of the kind of labour laws you want to see in layman's terms?
Sure. How about less restrictive legislation on who I am allowed to hire, no more unionised sector agreements that determine how much I should pay them and dictate how I should manage my business, and less restrictions on how I can optimise my labour force when circumstances dictate?
 

Johnatan56

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"beat", due to how they legislated it, USA gave up on it, plus no one wants to pollute their own backyard, they willingly ceded it to China.
USA will probably try and get Africa to mine and process it unless they can clean up the processing, if they can USA will become a dominant player again near overnight.
Rare earth minerals are not very rare.
 

Jings

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"beat", due to how they legislated it, USA gave up on it, plus no one wants to pollute their own backyard, they willingly ceded it to China.
USA will probably try and get Africa to mine and process it unless they can clean up the processing, if they can USA will become a dominant player again near overnight.
Rare earth minerals are not very rare.
US did give up on it. Look how they've sold TFM to the Chinese. US will unlikely be a dominant player again unless they mine on their own backyard because they're not getting mining in Africa back.
 

Johnatan56

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US did give up on it. Look how they've sold TFM to the Chinese. US will unlikely be a dominant player again unless they mine on their own backyard because they're not getting mining in Africa back.
Got sold off as couldn't compete, there were laws in place that basically made rare earth mining and refining be treated like Uranium mining, which pushed the price up too high.
 

Magnum

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Guys let me ask is it possible for South Africa to create second economy using what we have in ICT space? I mean try to copy China's electronics strategies to grow SA economy maybe even use our own minerals we produce here ?
We are one of the worlds richest Silicon countries and we do diddly about it. No solar production, No electronics not even any noteworthy refining. We have possibilities, But just too stupid to act on it.
 

Johnatan56

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Strange, since the sale production in the mine has increased. Mind you, the main element mined is copper.

http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2225-62532017001100005
Sorry didn't check TFM, thought you were talking about the processing company that the US sold off.
Besides the one mine in the US, there is currently no mining, and they have no processing plants, but 2 are set to come online within the next 2/3 years.

EDIT:
Also unsure why you linked that? That's a copper mine with a byproduct of sulfuric acid (H2SO4), not rare earth metals? Unless you're referring to the use of sulfuric acid in the leeching of rare earth metals.
 

Arthur

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So silly to see this as "win" and "lose". It's what you do with it that counts, and in that the US beats everyone. Sources will anyways find a market. There's no need to own the raw resource. Just look at what Japan has done with almost no mineral resources. Just look at what Africa has done, with massive mineral resources.
 

Gnome

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Why is China the world leader in "rare earth minerals"? (pro tip: it isn't because they are rare)
TL;DR they don't give 2 f#cks about the environmental damage they are causing by mining and refining elements that cause tons of radiation and pollution.

But hey, we are doing so well with our coal fired plants here, why not spin up some rare earth refineries here too.

Pretty decent overview on it:
 
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TooFastTim

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Proposed by who?
An alliance between academia (UCT and Stellies I think) and the electrical industry. Academia was doing a lot of work with rare-earths at the time. The idea was presented to govt who:
  1. didn't understand the implications,
  2. didn't understand and,
  3. wanted to know what was in it for them.
 
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