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TREM Center's Yaron Vorona on Investing in R&D

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October 25, 2010

TREM Center's Yaron Vorona

The Washington Independent reported on the history of the Mountain Pass rare earth mine, and the need to diversify our resource away from reliance on China. In an interview, a reporter asked us what is the missing link in the supply chain.

Yaron Vorona, executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security’s Technology and Rare Earth Metals Center, cited an April 2010 Government Accountability Office report that says it could take 15 years to develop a U.S. rare earth industry.

Vorona says the U.S. has a lack of scientific knowledge about REEs because most scientists went to China to continue their work on the minerals decades ago. “If the mines that are being planned were all to come online tomorrow that would be fantastic, but there would be nobody to run them,” Vorona said, noting that China has 100,000 rare earth scientists.

He also said that chemical separation of REEs is often very difficult to perfect. “It’s a very long and involved process,” he says. “That’s one of the biggest risks. It can take dozens, hundreds of steps to separate the rare earths.”

Vorona notes that the Chinese rare earth society has hundreds of thousands of members, and China employs thousands of rare earth scientists.

The full article here:

http://washingtonindependent.com/101462/california-mine-represents-hope-and-peril-for-u-s-rare-earth-industry

 

Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming Calls for Action

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October 22, 2010

Congressman Edward J. Markey, Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming has written a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and US Trade Representative Ronald Kirk. The subject of the letter is the reported export ban of rare earths from China to the US.

LetterheadHe will be holding a hearing on the subject, and posed the following questions:

  1. Has China actually blocked shipments beyond export quota restrictions? How is the blockade being enforced?
  2. How has the export quota been implemented?
  3. Which elements are of concern to the Department of Defense?
  4. Which elements are of concert to the Department of Energy?
See the full letter below.

Bolivia Goes It Alone

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October 22, 2010

Yesterday, Bolivian president Evo Morales said that the country will proceed without a foreign partner to produce lithium-ion batteries. Morales complained to reporters, "They only want to invest to buy lithium carbonate...we need partners for the industrialization of lithium batteries in Bolivia."

Previously, France's Bollore, Japan's Sumitomo and Mitsubishi and Korea's LG were reported to be interested in working with Boliva. It seems the risk is too high.

The most interesting news is that there really is no shortage of lithium. Bolivia claims to have enough reserves for 5000 years. If this is true, perhaps Bolivia's future will include foreign investment and development of lithium. Let's hope the current leadership doesn't last for millennia.

 

 

NPR All Things Considered on Rare Earths

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October 20, 2010

National Public Radio (NPR) has featured China's trade policies in a recent show. Note that in the trascript, tungsten is erroneously used as an example of a rare earth metal. Tungsten is an important technology metal that China controls as well.

Transcript:

http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=130704695

Related article:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130704695

NPR All Things Considered on Rare Earths

E-mail Print PDF

October 20, 2010

National Public Radio (NPR) has featured China's trade policies in a recent show. Note that in the trascript, tungsten is erroneously used as an example of a rare earth metal. Tungsten is an important technology metal that China controls as well.

Transcript:

http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=130704695

Related article:

 

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130704695

Wall Street Journal Poll Highlights Rare Earth Worries

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October 22, 2010

A Wall Street Journal poll has highlighted that 82% of people are concerned about China's control over rare earth resources. "For months, Japan, the U.S. and the European Union have braced for less supply from China, which dominates the market with up to 97% of world production, and whose export quotas for this year are nearly exhausted. The materials are used for high-tech products including batteries and hybrid cars. Could China's control over the market  hurt other countries technologically?"

 

Source: Wall Street Journal

Fleet Maintenance Magazine on Electric Vehicles

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October 22, 2010

David Kolman, editor of Fleet Magazine published an article on Electric Vehicles in the October edition of the periodical. He writes in the print edition:

 

Commercial Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles are being manufactured in a variety of technologies, shapes and sizes, suited to a wide range of uses.

Light duty electric vehicles for the commercial industry have advanced into a reliable and marketable product. Electric vehicles are being manufactured in multiple configurations and for diverse applications. The evolution of electric vehicle technology is ever going forward, and developments make electric traction technology already suitable for many applications.

(Resources that were most helpful in providing information and material for this article included Yaron Vorona, TREM Center Director, Institute for the Analysis of Global Security; the Electric Drive Transportation Association; and Robert Stüssi, mobility consultant and president of the European Association for Battery, Hybrid and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles, and vice president of the World Electric Vehicle Association.)

 

Full text here: http://www.fleetmag.com/print/Fleet-Maintenance/Commercial-Electric-Vehicles/1$4562

In his blog, Kolman continues with the following

 

Electric vehicle technologies

During my research for the feature on commercial electric vehicles that will appear in Fleet Maintenance Magazine’s October issue of, I had a conversation with Yaron Vorona, director of the TREM Center, Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS), about electric vehicle technologies.

TREM (Technology & Rare Earth Metals) and IAGS are essential parts of the clean technology and defense industries.

The mission of the IAGS TREM Center (tremcenter.org) is to create a forum where policymakers and companies from the minerals, defense technology, cleantech, automotive and finance sectors can advance policies that ensure secure and diverse supply chains for technology metals.

The TREM Center hosts regular meetings on policy developments in Washington, DC, and abroad. In addition to holding annual TREM conferences in Washington, it holds periodic briefings for members of Congress, their staffs and various branches of the Administration.

The TREM Center also conducts research and issues reports on related issues and convenes stakeholder task forces.

The Institute for the Analysis of Global Security is a non-profit organization which directs attention to the strong link between energy and security, and provides a stage for public debate on the various avenues to strengthening the world’s energy security.

Basically, there are four main types of electric vehicles: pure electric vehicles (also known as battery electric vehicles); hybrid vehicles; plug-in hybrid electric vehicles; and fuel cell vehicles.

I asked Vorona which of these four technologies holds more promise than the others.

In the short term, he said he believes the best technology lies with plug-in hybrid flex-fuel vehicles. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles allow the driver to travel shorter distances (30-50 miles, depending on the battery) using battery power only. After that, propulsion is provided by an internal combustion engine.

“Using flex-fuel technology gives the driver or fleet manager the power to choose what fuel to use on any given day, depending on the price and availability of fuel,” Vorona told me. “The decision at the pump will sound something like this: ‘Do I want to fill up on Saudi oil, American corn, Brazilian Sugar, Israeli algae or Canadian switchgrass today?’”

This kind of choice only costs $100 extra per car to produce flex-fuel vehicles, according to Vorona.

“In the medium term, the future is electric,” he said. “Battery electric vehicles will likely be the driving force behind transportation - pardon the pun. Advances are constantly being made to charge times, energy densities and lifespan in terms of both time and charge/discharge cycles.”

Full text here: http://www.fleetmag.com/interactive/2010/10/01/electric-vehicle-technologies/

 

Congressman Coffman Slams Chinese for Rare Earths Freeze

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Calls on the President and Congress to take Immediate Action

October 20, 2010


Congressman Coffman

(WASHINGTON) - Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) issued the following statement after media reports surfaced that the Chinese government was halting exports to the United States of critical rare earth metals:

“Reports that the Chinese government has expanded its rare earths embargo, blocking shipments to the U.S. and announcing it will cut exports of these critical materials by up to 30 percent next year as retribution for currency and trade disputes are extremely disturbing.  It is absolutely critical to our national security that the president and this Congress take immediate action to protect U.S. interests.”

“In the short term, it is incumbent upon the president to make this a national issue and ensure our national security interests are not beholden to the Chinese.  As a long term solution, I am reiterating my call that Congress immediately pass the RESTART Act.  The looming crisis can be averted, but America must act now.”

“Every day that passes without the U.S. taking significant action to restart a domestic rare earths industry, our national security is placed in greater jeopardy and we become further beholden to a nation that time and time again shows they are not a reliable ally or trading partner. Make no mistake, the threat that reliance on China for rare earths poses to both U.S. economic and national security is real.”

Coffman is the author of H.R. 4866, Rare Earths Supply-Chain Technology and Resources Transformation (RESTART) Act.   Coffman previously introduced legislation included in last year’s defense authorization bill requiring the Comptroller General to determine the extent to which specific military weapons systems are currently dependent upon rare-earth materials and the degree to which U.S. is dependent upon sources that could be interrupted or disrupted.  That report was completed in April of this year and the Department of Defense is currently undertaking their own study, due to be completed in the coming weeks.

 

 

Read the original here:

http://coffman.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=366:october-20-2010-coffman-slams-chinese-for-rare-earths-freeze&catid=36:latest-news&Itemid=10

Congressman Coffman Slams Chinese for Rare Earths Freeze

E-mail Print PDF

Calls on the President and Congress to take Immediate Action

October 20, 2010

 

(WASHINGTON) - Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) issued the following statement after media reports surfaced that the Chinese government was halting exports to the United States of critical rare earth metals:

“Reports that the Chinese government has expanded its rare earths embargo, blocking shipments to the U.S. and announcing it will cut exports of these critical materials by up to 30 percent next year as retribution for currency and trade disputes are extremely disturbing.  It is absolutely critical to our national security that the president and this Congress take immediate action to protect U.S. interests.”

“In the short term, it is incumbent upon the president to make this a national issue and ensure our national security interests are not beholden to the Chinese.  As a long term solution, I am reiterating my call that Congress immediately pass the RESTART Act.  The looming crisis can be averted, but America must act now.”

“Every day that passes without the U.S. taking significant action to restart a domestic rare earths industry, our national security is placed in greater jeopardy and we become further beholden to a nation that time and time again shows they are not a reliable ally or trading partner. Make no mistake, the threat that reliance on China for rare earths poses to both U.S. economic and national security is real.”

Coffman is the author of H.R. 4866, Rare Earths Supply-Chain Technology and Resources Transformation (RESTART) Act.   Coffman previously introduced legislation included in last year’s defense authorization bill requiring the Comptroller General to determine the extent to which specific military weapons systems are currently dependent upon rare-earth materials and the degree to which U.S. is dependent upon sources that could be interrupted or disrupted.  That report was completed in April of this year and the Department of Defense is currently undertaking their own study, due to be completed in the coming weeks.

 

 

Read the original here:

http://coffman.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=366:october-20-2010-coffman-slams-chinese-for-rare-earths-freeze&catid=36:latest-news&Itemid=10

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