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US DOE and Japan to Collaborate on Rare Earths

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November 18, 2010

NDTV reports that the US and Japan are set to collaborate on clean technologies and technology metals.



US and Japan Collaborate

The NDTV transcript follows:

On Thursday, Japan and the U.S. reaffirmed the two nations will strengthen cooperation on the development of technology to create clean energy and alternatives to rare earth metals.

[Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy]:

"The United States and Japan have enjoyed a long and deep friendship, particularly in the areas of scientific cooperation and energy; two areas that the Department of Energy plays a major role in the United States."

Japan and the U.S. also agreed to cooperate on research, including rare earths mining and alternatives to rare earths.

[Akihiro Ohata, Japanese Trade Minister]:

"Both countries will actively cooperate in research - as well as policy making and funding - on materials indispensable to the production of clean energy, such as rare earth and nuclear power."

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Japanese Trade Minister Akihiro Ohata signed a jointed statement in Tokyo.

They also agreed to look into clean energy technologies, including the establishment of a team to promote electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid cars.

Earlier this month, Japan and the U.S. agreed on the need to address the problem of relying too much on a single country for production and supply of rare earth minerals.

China, which accounts for 97 percent of the global output of rare earth minerals, strictly controls their trade, despite pressure from the U.S. and Japan to loosen export constraints.




China Resumes Exports to Japan

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November 24, 2010

AP reports that China has resumed shipments of rare earths to Japan, ending a long officially denied boycott following a territorial confrontation over the East China Sea.

Japan has responded by working to diversify its supply base. Over the past weeks, the country's officials and companies have been reaching out to Vietnam, Mongolia and Australia in bids to find alternative sources of technology metals. The government has been providing financial support to Japanese companies who are trying to secure the country's supply chain.


"Efforts that aim to diversify the regions and countries from where we import rare earths are intensifying, and I want to increase my efforts even more in this area to demonstrate solid, steady progress," said Japanese trade and industry minister Akihiro Ohata.


China Plans Strategic Metals Stockpile

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November 3, 2010


According to the Chinese Government run People's Daily Online, government is studying a plan to build strategic reserves for 10 rare metals, namely rare earth, tungsten, antimony, molybdenum, tin, indium, germanium, gallium, tantalum and zirconium, according to today's Shanghai Securities News.

According to the article, because of the relatively low requirements for environmental protection in the country, the market prices of some rare metals have long been lower than their real values.

Since the beginning of 2010, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Ministry of Land and Resources and local governments have introduced a number of measures to enhance concentration of production and to increase integration of metal resources, such as rare earth, tungsten, antimony, molybdenum and tin.

Read the full article here:



Industry Groups Pressure G-20 Leaders on China Rare Earths

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November 5, 2010

The New York Times reports that 37 industry groups have signed letters to the leaders of the G-20 governments asking them to make a commitment at their meeting this month in Seoul that trade in crucial rare earths will not be interrupted because of industrial policies or political disputes.

The letter also called for the G-20 leaders and governments to “renounce interference with commercial sale of rare earth elements, domestically or internationally, to advance industrial policy or political objectives.”

Among the 37 groups signing the letter were the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the American Petroleum Institute, the Business Roundtable, the Consumer Electronics Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Magnetic Materials Association, the Brazil-U.S. Business Council, Business Europe, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Korean Industries and the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association.

Read the full article here:


Computerworld Discusses China's Monopoly

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October 28, 2010

Computer world featured an interview with TREM Center director Yaron Vorona:

Yaron Vorona, executive director of the Technology and Rare Earth Metals Center, which is part of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, says that China is using its monopoly to gain strategic advantage. "Whether they intend for it to be a strategic threat or not is a very good question," he said, at the Critical and Rare Metals Summit here on Wednesday.

Read the full article here:



Quotas for Sale

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November 2, 2010

Reuters reports that smuggling of rare earths is a booming industry. According to an article by Lucy Hornby, China's Ministry of Commerce estimates that 20,000 tons were smuggled in 2009, and 2010 could see a 50% increase to 30,000 tons. For comparison, the export quota for 2010 is 30,258 tons.

In an interview, Tiger Pan (Managing Director of Asian Metals) said, "The price of an export permit used to be cheap, but now it's really expensive -- expensive enough that some companies would rather sell their quotas, because you can make more than by exporting."

Read the article here:


DoD Unafraid of China's Monopoly, Coffman Disagrees

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October 31, 2010

According to a recent Bloomberg report, the US Department of Defense study has claimed that China's monopoly over Rare Earths poses no threat to national security. Apparently, rising prices and supply uncertainties are spurring private investment in new mining operations outside of China that will help meet American military needs, which require less than 5 percent of U.S. rare- earth consumption.

Congressman Mike CoffmanWhile the US military uses only a small fraction of the world's rare earths, it will take time for industry to correct the vulnerabilities in the supply chain, and government support will be necessary.

In the Bloomberg report, Chinese leader Wen Jiabao pledged to supply Japan with rare earths in a meeting in Vietnam. He made the statement during a meeting with counterparts from Japan and South Korea.

In response to the Department of Defense study, TREM10 keynote speaker Congressman Mike Coffman said that the Department is being "myopic". In a phone interview, Bloomberg reports that he said “It’s a very myopic view and it’s certainly not looking at the economic security of the country. It’s only looking at the Department of Defense.”


Secretary of State Clinton on China's Rare Earths

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October 29, 2010

The British newpaper, the Daily Telegraph, reports that a representative of the Chinese Ministry of Industry has denied intentions to leverage the country's strategic monopoly over rare earths.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

“China will not use rare earths as a bargaining tool,” an industry ministry spokesman told a press conference, “China hopes to have mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries on the use of rare earths... and at the same time protect a non-renewable resource.”

However, according to the Telegraph, a recent article in China’s ministry of commerce's The International Business Daily magazine, urged China to stand strong in the “rare earth wars” and resist calls from the “big powers” to relax quota restrictions.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with the Japanese foreign minister and said, "...because of the importance of these rare earth minerals, I think both the minister and I are aware that our countries and others will have to look for additional sources of supply." She continued, “This [China’s imposing of quotas] served as a wake-up call," she added, "So we welcome the Chinese statement that it will resume normal trading in these materials but I think the entire world has to seek additional supplies."
The World Trade Organization's Secretariat said, “The resulting gap between domestic prices and world prices constitutes implicit assistance to domestic downstream processors of the targeted products and thus provides them a competitive advantage."
Read the Telegraph article here:

Yaron Vorona Discusses the Geopolitics of Metals with E&E TV

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October 28, 2010

Yaron Vorona on E&E TV

Last week, Chinese news outlets reported that China plans to cut export quotas for rare earth metals by 30 percent next year. How critical are these materials to U.S. renewable energy production? Is China using its monopoly over rare earths production for political gains? In an interview with E&E TV's OnPoint, Yaron Vorona, director of the Technology & Rare Earth Metals Center at the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, explains how Congress and the Obama administration can address the issue and discusses the state of U.S. rare earths production.

Watch the interview here: http://www.eenews.net/tv/video_guide/1237




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