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Why the next battle may be for rare earths ? (22-03-10)

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Why the next battle may be for rare earths ? (22-03-10)

Commodity Online — Rare earths are indeed getting rare. I got wind of it only a few months back when doing a story on Canada Resource Group and their Blue River Project in British Columbia.
It’s President David Hodge in an interview said that tantalum that is used in cellphone, laptops, digital camerals and several modern industries is in short supply with Western supply totally eliminated.

China who controls more than 97% of the rare earths supply has threatened to curtail supplies as it wants them for domestic consumption. Much of the rare earth metals available in the market are mined in unethical and inhumane ways in African continent. For example, majority of the tantalum come from Democratic Republic of Congo where profits from such mining is diverted to fund ongoing wars and civil strife.

Naturally the United States of America is worried as shortage of the rare earths is a threat to their economic and national security. Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman has introduced a legislation to address the impending rare earths crisis and it has been welcomed by the United States Magnet Materials Association (USMMA), a coalition of companies representing domestic high performance magnet producers and suppliers.

Coffman’s Rare Earth Supply-Chain Technology and Resource Transformation (RESTART) Act of 2010, H.R. 4866, would reestablish competitive domestic rare earths mineral production, processing, refining, purification, and metals production industries to support the growth of green job technology and manufacturing as well as the nation’s defense industry, the pointed out in a press release.

The legislation would create a « whole-of-government » approach involving the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Energy, State, and Defense, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Coffman’s RESTART Act builds upon several elements of USMMA’s platform for resolving the Rare Earth Elements (REE) supply crisis, a serious threat to the United States’ economic and national security.

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