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Index / Mining & Minerals - Evaluations / Rare Earth Exploration, Mining, Processing, Uses

4/13/2017 by mdc
https://edgylabs.com/2017/04/12/china-rare-earth-minerals/
Paige reports that Rare Earth Minerals are growing in demand, becoming a necessary and controversial commodity in today trade in production.Their status as a natural resource that is essential to the advancement of defense, technology, and clean energy will only be elevated as technology advances.

Although the REM trade has sparked backlash from environmental watch dogs, it is becoming more apparent that they are taking hold as the new oil in the natural commodities market. What makes REMs so rare is not their quantity on earth, which is abundant, but instead the amount of time and energy it takes to extract them. REMs are extremely concentrated, making it so that producers churn through mountains of material just to get a cup of product in the mines. Their yields are low, and at the moment, the general consensus is that they will be necessary for tech development for the foreseeable future.

The messy process of extracting REMs comes at a huge environmental cost. In Baotou, China, the biggest REM mining facility in the world, the effects of the industry have had an impact on the city, causing massive population growth in only two years, coupled with visible environmental destruction.

Considering the new EPA restructuring, regulation in the U.S. may no longer be an impediment, but even if we had an operational mine like Molycorp, we would still be at least a decade behind China with the infrastructure to refine and manufacture REMs into consumer electronics. If Molycorp were to start back up tomorrow and produce immediately, we would still have to ship the REM to China for refinement and production.

Basically, the U.S. lag in developing REM extraction and refinement infrastructure and China willingness to do the dirty work required to acquire them has created a situation where China is like a one-man OPEC.

Read on ...


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