Rare earths

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Riggerjack
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Rare earths

Post by Riggerjack » Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:35 pm

This was a nice easy to read link about rare earths, and how China had a 97% production monopoly, and how that works out in an embargo.

http://gizmodo.com/how-chinas-rare-eart ... 1653638596

I am against any governmental interference with markets, but I understand why others may feel differently. If we were to interfere, I think a simple reserve would work, similar to the federal oil reserves, but lower costs, because volume is so much lower.

I put this in politics, because lots of people on the internet seem to have some bizarre ideas about rare earths, and schemes to make money. So I expect to run into resistance from people who think this is some mysterious, rare treasure, and that they are about to corner a market.

jacob
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Re: Rare earths

Post by jacob » Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:47 pm

Some day I have to show you how the url tag works ;-)

It's like with oil. The market can produce anything---by which I mean something that exists, not unicorns---as long as someone can pay the price(*). However, some behaviors and products would be uneconomic if, say, oil was $200/barrel. We already know that once oil gets into $100/bbl territory, the likelihood of recessions go way up because many behaviors are materially curbed, e.g. big SUVs, international flying, ginormous houses.

(*) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URvWSsAgtJE e.g. $1500 sandwich in 6 months

The REE materials work the same way. China is the lowest cost producer for REE just like Saudi Arabia is the lowest cost producer for oil. That doesn't mean the US or Japan can't do produce REE or oil. It just means that those Priuses or guided missiles just became that more expensive and maybe now you don't wanna pay for them. Therein lies the leverage.

ZAFCorrection
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Re: Rare earths

Post by ZAFCorrection » Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:54 pm

The only REE I'm seeing that actually looks like a currently vital component of the economy is neodymium for electric motors/generators, and I'm thinking a fair bit of that could be replaced by ferrites if there were sufficient motivation.

The seriousness of the situation is a bit overplayed given that the industry is extremely young (maybe 50 years at most), REEs are not that rare, only a few players ever bothered to try producing them, and the majority of the technologies that rely on them are not exactly mature or widespread (electric motors notwithstanding).

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