April 17, 2017

China's strategic dominance over "Tech Metals" - Rare Earth Elements.

Australia is emerging as an alternative source of tech metals/rare earth elements including Lithium

Yet it seems China is doing most of the investing in tech metals/rare earth elements in Australia, as economic amounts are discovered in Australia. 

Most “tech metals” overlap with the more established term “rare earth elements”.  ABC advises “There are 17 rare earth elements on the periodic table, falling into the heavy rare earths or light rare earths depending on their atomic weight." Tech metals are essential for making mobile phones, solar cells, large battery autonomous vehicles, submarine batteries? and large on-site batteries to store renewable energy (eg. solar, wind and hydro).

It is important economically and strategically that China is not the dominant supplier of tech metals rare earth elements” to the Western world. 


Lithium, vanadium and cobalt are all available in Australia and useful for “redox flow batteries”.
Might such large batteries be used in South Australia to store renewable energy?

Melissa CHAN :) at 3:30 in the Youtube seems quite happy China runs the world rare earths supply!

China, already dominating international supplies from its own Chinese mines, should not have  supply and pricing control over Australia's emerging "tech metal" rare earth element mines.



Ztev Konrad said...

There is the rare earth mine at a place called Mountain Pass California. It once supplied most of the US needs but is now technically bankrupt.
The US would rather invest billions in speculative startups, mostly in San Francisco, based on some app that delivers potato chips or something.
If thats what they deem more important, why complain when someone else does it all properly

Peter Coates said...

Hi Ztev

Silicon Valley and other speculators should wise up.

The US armed forces and arms industry should use their normally strong influences to let it be known:

"China should not be allowed to dominate world supplies of tech metals/rare earth elements that have broad military and dual uses".



Anonymous said...

Exploiting rare metals is a very polluting activity and this is why that has stopped in the US. The majority of rare earth elements in China are in what was part of Mongolia before WW2. Pollution from those exploitations is on the brink of contaminating water sources in China (I believe there is only 1+km of separation left). I am not an ecology person but if you have been anywhere near those exploitations, the description of hell on earth is not very far of.

Nicky K.D Chaleunphone said...

Hi pete,
you may want to check this story out

Moroccan Navy Shows Interest in Greek Submarines

Peter Coates said...

Thanks Nicky

Interesting http://northafricapost.com/17429-moroccan-navy-shows-interest-greek-submarines.html#.WPZS6-si7No.facebook Morocco has been talking to the Russians about buying Russia’s Amur-1650s

and now talking to the Greeks about receiving old Greek subs.

Most likely contruction and delivery of AIP Amurs has been delayed because Russia has been unable to develop AIP. Morocco is talking to the Greeks to encourage the Russians to deliver something - maybe Club missile armed Kilos.



Peter Coates said...


Your comments on rare earth element production pollution is certainly in line with Wikipedia's advice https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rare_earth_element#Environmental_considerations :

"Mining, refining, and recycling of rare earths have serious environmental consequences if not properly managed. A particular hazard is mildly radioactive slurry tailings resulting from the common occurrence of thorium and uranium in rare earth element ores.[67] Additionally, toxic acids are required during the refining process.[15] Improper handling of these substances can result in extensive environmental damage."

"...The Bukit Merah mine in Malaysia has been the focus of a US$100 million cleanup that is proceeding in 2011. After having accomplished the hilltop entombment of 11,000 truckloads of radioactively contaminated material, the project is expected to entail in summer, 2011, the removal of "more than 80,000 steel barrels of radioactive waste to the hilltop repository."[63]"