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back to article Japan and Vietnam push on with rare earth mining plans

Fears the global technology supply chain could be throttled by China's interest emerged over the weekend after Japan and Vietnam announced the inauguration of a rare earth technology centre in Hanoi, as the two countries look to accelerate their mining plans. Rare earths are highly coveted by the technology industry where they …

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Silver badge

10,000 tons

That seems like a lot to me, so I found this chart of metric tons of rare earth oxide equivalent per country.

1 China 125,000

2 India 2,700

3 Brazil 550

4 Malaysia 380

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Meh

They exploit but claim to be ethical.

Isn't this where the consumer/manufacturers of rare earths do not care where the minerals come from?

Ethical procurement takes a second place to the final product.

The large Corporations insulate themselves by using numerous middlemen and other supply chain organisations that they are unable to say where the product came from, with any certainty. This is of course intentional.

Especially when you consider that rare earths might come from war zones, dictator led countries and places where child labour poor or non existent pay and slave labour is exploited.

The likes of Samsung, Apple, Dell, Asus, Acer, HTC, in fact, all manufacturers like to hold a clean pair of hands in the air.

But they are not really clean are they? Still we get what we want don't we?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: They exploit but claim to be ethical.

Well, if Dell et al are wicked people for not giving a hoot about their suppliers, then presumably that's you spending some time in purgatory or worse for not giving a hoot about your supplier.

Unless, of course, you're posting from a wood computer hand crafted from a sustainable source by an un-washed artisan paid under ethical trade terms? And your ecopooter is presumably powered by an organic grass fed hamster on a treadwheel.

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Plan "B"

"it will be interesting to see if China decides to lower its prices and change its rhetoric"

Or just invade, Lai Chau being less than 40km from the China-Vietnam border.

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Re: Plan "B"

.. or set up a naval blockade.. they've been flexing their naval muscles there lately.

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Stop

Plan "B" wouldn't work.

China tried invading in 1979. They got about 15-20 km on average into the country before losing momentum. That was at a time where Việt Nam was more diplomatically isolated than it was now: it had just invaded Cambodia, an act which nobody liked, and the Chinese wanted to avenge their Khmer Rouge allies. Technically, the USSR was an ally of Việt Nam, but they didn't help much. The country had to get rid of the Chinese by their lonesome, which they did.

An invasion now would be a diplomatic disaster for China. It would move Việt Nam closer to India and the United States. I don't know if they'd permit bases, but the Vietnamese have been planning to open Cam Ranh Bay for foreign warships for yonks. With a move like that, the warships would be welcome as long as they want. Moreover, a war would confirm a lot of people's negative suspicions about the PRC around the world. People are willing to do business with China, but they don't exactly trust them.

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Flame

As said before

This article is good reading and offsets rhetoric by people with basement-level skills in economics and politics (really most of our so-called economists and politicians):

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/NC24Ad01.html

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Pirate

Re: As said before

I can't see any mention of how they ( Chinese ) decided to buy the foreign mines after they had been closed. I do not know what happened elsewehre, but they almost pulled it off in Australia. So there is a lot missing from that story, the one about China screwing the world and dogs.

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Bronze badge

Give it 5 years and there will be a rare earth glut

From a metals industry newspaper this morning:

"FYI, TMR is tracking a total of 429 rare-earth projects under development associated with 261 different companies in 37 different countries."

The way the metals industry works it would be surprising if more than 5% of these ever produce anything. But get ready for cerium oxide at $5 a kg again sometime in 2017 or so. That's below production cost by the way.

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Re: Give it 5 years and there will be a rare earth glut

Spot on. People react quickly to profits & prices, but what happens is that SO many people will react that the manufacturers will use less or alternates, while producers will mine everything to get it ... and soon there is a glut on the market.

It was ever so. Anyone else remember the OPEC embargos of the 70s? All the non-OPEC nations started pumping out all they could because the prices of oil and gas went up. What's more, the members of the OPEC cartel did the same, though they had signed an agreement not to. In addition, the price initially went up so people cut back uses where they could ... and, well, see above.

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Mushroom

I expect China will wait for the right moment

...to suddenyl drop the price of rare earths, crippling all the other suppliers that have sprung up before they've had chace to ameliorate their capital costs.

That came out a lot more accountant-y than I expected. :S

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Headmaster

Re: I expect China will wait for the right moment

"That came out a lot more accountant-y than I expected."

But not as accountanty as if you'd used "amortise" instead of "ameliorate".

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WTF?

Where'd you find that image?

I've never seen a periodic table that didn't have Scandium adjacent to Calcium, although if you had oodles of horizontal space I suppose you could inline the entire Lanthanide and Actinide series... Not to mention listing Lutetium and Lawrencium under Yttrium... That's the most idiosyncratic periodic table I've ever seen!

(And what's with this "An" element between Radium and Lawrencium?)

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