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Molycorp Mine Resumes Operation

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December 26, 2010

Molycorp Minerals announced that it has resumed mining operations at Mountain Pass, California. The following is an image of the first blast that occurred 3 days ago.

Molycorp Mine Blast

Last Minute Rare Earth Bill Introduced by Retiring Senators

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December 24, 2010

A new rare earth bill has been introduced into the Senate at the very end of the 111th Congress. Bill S.4031 , introduced by retiring Senators Bayh and Bond, is also called the ‘Rare Earths Supply-Chain Technology and Resources Transformation Act of 2010’ or the ‘RESTART Act’, a name identical to the bill introduced into the House and Senate earlier this year by Representative Mike Coffman and Senator Lisa Murkowski.

The bills are very similar, but the new Bayh-Bond RESTART Act has two major differences. First is the requirement for the Department of Energy to institute a Rare Earth Materials Program “to ensure the long-term, secure, and sustainable supply of rare earth materials in quantities that are sufficient to satisfy the national security, economic well-being, and industrial production needs of the United States.”

The Program would include activities:

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UN Experts Report on South American Lithium

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December 26, 2010

A report has been released by the Senior Expert Group Meeting on Sustainable Development of Lithium Resources in Latin America on emerging issues and opportunities. A meeting in Santiago, Chile was organized by the UN Department of Economic and Socail Affairs and the UN Economic COmmission for Latin America and the Caribbean on November 10-11, 2010. The meeting was financially and technically supported by the government of South Korea.

With 55 attendees and 21 presentations, the meeting dealt with such issues and supply and demand for lithium, country reports, issues of sustainability and proposals for enhancing cooperation in lithium resource development.

Among the general conclusions and recommendations were:

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China to Raise Rare Earth Export Tax

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December 16, 2010

The New York Time and Business Week report that China will be increasing the taxes on exports of rare earths next year. This comes after increasing restrictions on rare earths. Earlier this year, Yao Jian from China's Commerce Ministry said, "To protect the environment and natural resources, China will stick to the quota system to manage rare earth exports next year, and quotas will also decline." Yao recently said that the quotas have not yet been finalized.

With outstanding geopolitical issues like currency valuation, territorial disputes over the East and South China seas, human rights and more, China has been shown willing to use it's market power to pressure international governments.

According to official Xinhua news, From Jan. 1, 2011, China will adjust tariff rates on certain exports and imports and the changes have been approved by the State Council, or the Cabinet. The statement on the Ministry of Finance's website, however, did not specify what types of rare earth products would be included in the readjustment.

Meanwhile, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan is co-chairing a meeting with US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Trade Representative Ron Kirk in the US to kick off annual trade negotiations.

 

 

Department of Energy Releases Critical Metal Strategy

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December 15, 2010

At our conference this past March, Assistant Energy Secretary David Sandalow announced that the Department of Energy will be convening a task force to evaluate exposure to critical metals.

Watch Sandalow's Announcement

Today, the Department of Energy released its strategy. Secretary Steven Chu states in the foreword:

 

"Many new and emerging clean energy technologies, such as the components of wind turbines and electric vehicles, depend on materials with unique properties. The availability of a number of these materials is at risk due to their location, vulnerability to supply disruptions and lack of suitable substitutes. As part of the Department of Energy’s efforts to advance a clean energy economy, we have developed a Critical Materials Strategy to examine and address this challenge.  The Critical Materials Strategy builds on the Department’s previous work in this area and provides a foundation for future action. This Strategy is a first step toward a comprehensive response to the challenges before us. We hope it will also encourage others to engage in a dialogue about these issues and work together to achieve our Nation’s clean energy goals. Ensuring reliable access to critical materials will help the United States lead in the new clean energy economy."

Read the report here:

http://www.energy.gov/news/documents/criticalmaterialsstrategy.pdf

 

Conflict Minerals Report from Enough Project

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December 14, 2010

The Globe and Mail obtained an advance release of the Enough Project's review of technology companies and their ability to prove their raw materials are "conflict free".

David Sullivan, who is Research Director at the Enough Project said, "It’s important that the forward-leaning companies, folks like HP and Intel and Motorola, are demonstrating that this is all possible – not easy, but it is possible" This article highlights the difficulty in tracing the raw material supply chain.

The article states that "The Enough Project ranking is especially important because of the disconnect between where conflict minerals are mined and where the finished product is sold to consumers"

Legislation on conflict minerals has been passed in the US, and the Canadian Government is also considering new laws. It is important to study the effect that these laws may have on the supply of technology metals such as tantalum, cobalt, niobium and tungsten.

Read Enough Project's Full Report:

http://www.enoughproject.org/publications/getting-conflict-free

Original article here:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology/report-highlights-conflict-minerals-in-electronics/article1836295/

 

Boston Consulting Group Report Highlights Need to Secure Supply

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December 6, 2010

A recent report issued by the Boston Consulting Group called "What Next for Alternative Energy" raises concerns about material availability for the future of electric vehicles.

The report stats that "constraints on raw materials - such as lithium used in lithium-ion batteries and rare-earth metals used as magnets in electric motors" could hinder EV depoloyment, despite the fact that " ample lithium exists to supply the needs of EV batteries, the potential for rapid market growth could cause temporary supply disruptions."

The report gives the example of polysilicon shortages affecting in solar photovoltaic manufacturers in 2007-2008. "During the shortage, manufacturers that hadn't contracted for a secure supply of polysilicon were forced to procure it on the open market at very high spot rates." The report continues, "Similar periods of rapid growth or temprorary supply disruptions - a potential concern given that four countries account for 90 percent of global lithium reserves and China alone accounts for the vast majority of rare earth metal prodution - could negaitvely impact both EV manufacturers and battery manufacturers"

Read the full report here:

http://www.bcg.com/documents/file65187.pdf

White House OSTP Sr. Advisor to Speak at TREM11

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December 5, 2010

We are pleased to announce that the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy is sending Dr. Cyrus Wadia to speak at TREM11. Dr. Wadia will join such speakers as Chile's Minister of Mining, Laurence Golborne.

The conference, which will take place on March 22-23, 2011 in Washington, DC is the event in which policy makers from the US Congress and Administration meet with executives from technology, energy, defense, finance and mining industries to discuss the way America imports, produces and uses technology metals.

Dr. Wadia holds a dual appointment as Co-Director of Cleantech to Market at the Haas School of Business (UC Berkeley) and Guest Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)

For more information on the conference, visit

http://www.shmeego.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=113&Itemid=504

American Geologist Appeals Chinese Espionage Charge

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December 5, 2010

An American geologist named Xue Feng with dual Chinese and American citizenship is appealing his indictment on espionage charges. Staff members from the US Embassy in China have been denied access to the proceedings, according to AP.

The Texas resident, who obtained in Ph.D at the University of Chicago, disappeared in China 3 years ago. In his first months of captivity, he was tortured with cigarettes, being forced to sit for extended periods and to hold a chair up behind his back with handcuffs.

He was in China doing market research for international firm IHS on the Chinese oil and gas industry, and obtained a database of 30,000 oil wells. The same company has assembled data on energy reserves all around the world, which Chinese companies have used to exploit resources in Africa and Australia.

Earlier this year, four Rio Tinto employees were also detained on espionage charges for researching Chinese steel production capacity.

The incident highlights the dangers of doing market research in China, and running afoul of vague espionage rules.

For more information on Xue Feng's life, see the Wall Street Journal Article here:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704584804575644470575141314.html

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