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Friday, October 21, 2011

Rare Earth Oxides: The New Opec?

On a trip to lala land, (Mud's blog), I was introduced to something called Rare Earth Oxides.  These are elements in the Earth's crust, not really rare, just hard to find in mineable concentrations.  I admit, I did not know much about them, but Mud has discovered that China leads the world in the production of these elements, and they have decided to quit exporting them.  So I decided to do some research on Rare Earth Oxides, and I'd like to share my new found brilliance.

The reason behind the demand for these elements is the huge wave of technological advances in the past twenty years.  Rare earth oxides are used in all manner of electronic devices such as cell phones and computers, but they are also in great demand for "green" technologies like windmills and solar panels.

Rare earth metals and alloys that contain them are used in many devices that people use every day such as: computer memory, DVD's, rechargeable batteries, cell phones, car catalytic converters, magnets, fluorescent lighting and much more.

During the past twenty years there has been an explosion in demand for many items that require rare earth metals. Twenty years ago there were very few cell phones in use but the number has risen to over 5 billion in use today. The usage of computers and DVDs has grown almost as fast as cell phones. 
The electric car, supposed to save us from the evil OPEC countries, relies heavily on rare earth oxides to make it's rechargeable batteries.

 Many rechargeable batteries are made with rare earth compounds. Demand for the batteries is being driven by demand for portable electronic devices such as cell phones, readers, computers and cameras. 

Several pounds of rare earth compounds are in batteries that power electric vehicles and hybrid-electric vehicles. As concerns for energy independence, climate changeand other issues drive the sale of electric vehicles the demand for batteries made with rare earth compounds will climb even faster.
Mud reported on his blog that China had 97% of the worlds supply of these elements, but that is not exactly true.  China now produces 97% of the worlds usage, but their reserves are only about one third of the world's total.  That's not really a relief, because opening new mines takes years, and China is going to cease all exports next year.  So, as usual, America will be held hostage by a third world dictator because our EPA is against Americans making money.  The cost of all our cell phones and computers will rise, and us poorer citizens will get even poorer.  I don't suppose Mud realizes how this is tied directly to liberal policies, but he is now worried that the US will go to war with China over dirt.  Frankly, I had worried about that myself, but I thought it would be over plain dirt due to China's outrageous population.  I never would have thought they'd fight over dirt that won't even grow weeds.

World Mine Production and Reserves (2009 Data)
Production (Metric Ton)
Reserves (Metric Ton)
United States
Commonwealth of Independent States
not available
Other countries
not available
World total (rounded)

Maybe we need to start drilling for oil, and cutting new coal mines.  After all, "green" energy already costs too much, and now its likely to double or even triple.  Do you suppose Obama knew about this when he said our energy prices would necessarily skyrocket?  And how much stock does George Soros own in Chinese mining companies?

rare earth magnets in wind turbinesDid You Know? Rare earth magnets are used in wind turbines. Some large turbines require two TONS of rare earth magnets. These magnets are very strong and make the turbines highly efficient. Rare earth magnets are used in turbines and generators in many alternative energy applications.

Solar panels and wind turbines have a very short usable lifespan.  It is my understanding that the most expensive parts of these technologies must be replaced every five years or so.   How can that be considered "green"?  We need to rethink all this new crap.  And these rare earth elements have serious side effects.  In short, they are really bad for the environment, giving off toxic waste that must be disposed of.  That sure doesn't sound very green to me.

Plus look what it does to the landscape.


  1. Tenth,

    This is the typical trajectory of all Liberal (Democrat, Socialist, Progressive, whatever) solutions. This is true in every arena whether it is Social Programs, economics, or phony "science" applications. Liberals are the most gullible people on earth.

    Everything they touch turns to crap. Think about shopping bags. Econazis drove us from using paper bags to plastic bags and now to reusable bags. Paper bags were made from a renewable resource and they were completely biodegradable. They drove the replacement with plastic bags which are made with oil (no problem there right?) and are not really biodegradable. Now they are driving us to buy reusable bags which have to be laundered to prevent them becoming a health hazard - not increase in energy use there right? Plus - every reusable bag I have seen is made in - you guessed it - China.

    If a liberal thinks it up - even if it seems kind, responsible, or appropriate today - it's going to go stupid in short order. Examine the history of liberal hysteria over drinking water that drove a whole new industry (bottled water) and a whole new problem (what to do with the plastic bottles?).

  2. I'm quite happy to be honored on your blog, Tenth. I'm glad, too, that you brought the news of this crisis to the folks dwelling on the far-right side of life.

    Sadly, though, your clutch of blog pals don't know too very much about science nor do they care whether China has its thumb on these vital metals needed for so many futuristic uses. After all, the Bible doesn't have much science information for the readers.

    It's a shame that CS's hate for me and for anyone to the left of Goldwater is so intense that he can summarily dismiss this looming crisis, but then, he joins many on the right-side who are in continual denial of reality.

    Luckily, though, there are many more Americans who understand the world much more thoroughly than does he and who want our nation to be able to compete in the 21st century.

    Too bad that CS and many others are stuck in the 19th century.

  3. Mud,

    The point of my post was to refute your notion that China has us over a barrel. We have plenty of these resources here, we just have to mine them. Libtards like you make mining way more expensive here, so China's bottlenecking of the rare earth oxides raises the price high enough that Americans can now mine them. The stupidity of the left is that if they'd back off their stupid regulations, we could produce these elements, and oil and coal, for way less, while putting AMERICANS to work.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Mud,

    It is a shame that your dismissal of all things real and honest put you in the position of always supporting imaginary crises or misunderstanding the true issues at hand.

    As with our discussion on Johnny's blog - you bring nothing to the game. No facts, no data, just innuendo, insults, and drive-by irrelevance.

    I hope that you and your merry little band of Marxists stay the course with your "everyone is stupid but us" campaign. With the World's smartest man at the helm you socialists got your ass handed to you last year and it's going to happen again next year.

    When you find out that no one agrees with you outside your on-line echo chamber - you very well may be the problem in that particular equation, not your imaginary "LIV" foes.