Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Terrific: China's going green on us

Let's talk energy independence, shall we?

So, let's get this straight: electric car batteries which last between 3-8 years, cost $10,000 a copy and are difficult to dispose of because what they contain. Additionally, the lithium needed for the batteries and which the Chinese have most of will run out in less than 40 years.

Well, at least we have a willing trading partner in China for this lithium, right?


Prices of some rare earth metals have doubled in just three weeks amid heavy stockpiling in China that has raised fears over global supplies.

China produces more than 90 per cent of the world’s rare earths, 17 elements used in hybrid cars, fluorescent lights and many high-tech applications.

A recent crackdown by Beijing on rare earth mines and restrictions on exports have caused chaos in some of these markets.

Japan and the US, the world’s biggest importers of rare earths, have repeatedly voiced concerns to China, while complaints from industrial users of rare earths have been growing. Last year, China cut their exports by 40 per cent and temporarily banned exports to Japan during a political dispute.

Rare earth prices have already been rising sharply this year, but the recent sharp price increase has puzzled Chinese analysts, who blamed it largely on hoarding by companies who expect prices to rise further.

Chinese officials said environmental concerns were the main driver behind a restructuring on the industry, which will close illegal mines and reduce output and ultimately put such state-owned miners as Minmetals, Chinalco and Baotou at the helm of the rare earth sector.

Isn't that rich? Green technology imperiled because of environmental concerns. Don't believe for a moment, however, that the Chi-comms have embraced any sort of come-to-Gaia moment, rather they have come to the conclusion that with ours and Europe's ill-considered, head-long plunge into electric cars, choo-choo trains, solar panels and wind turbines, they can set themselves up rather nicely as a one-nation rare earth cartel because lord knows, we aren't going to mine for any rare earths here.

And you thought that having to deal with OPEC was a bitch.

The more time passes and the more transpires with respect to its unfolding, the more underwhelmed we become with green/electric technology.


drozz said...

US leverage would be a nice catch 22 for team O:
we can drill here and export the oil to china in trade for the rare earth minerals.

SarahB said...

I never realized China cornered the market on green materials. So, let's see...all our debt is owned by China, and soon all the materials to power our nations will be supplied by China. "Energy independence"...yah. And "green is the new red" was never so true.

Harrison said...

How will I get my Lithium to take when the US dollar is worthless?