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Thread: China leaks plans to 'starve' foreign competition in hybrid cars & computers

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    Banned Melonie's Avatar
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    Default China leaks plans to 'starve' foreign competition in hybrid cars & computers

    (snip)Beijing is drawing up plans to prohibit or restrict exports of rare earth metals that are produced only in China and play a vital role in cutting edge technology, from hybrid cars and catalytic converters, to superconductors, and precision-guided weapons.

    A draft report by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has called for a total ban on foreign shipments of terbium, dysprosium, yttrium, thulium, and lutetium. Other metals such as neodymium, europium, cerium, and lanthanum will be restricted to a combined export quota of 35,000 tonnes a year, far below global needs.

    China mines over 95pc of the world’s rare earth minerals, mostly in Inner Mongolia. The move to hoard reserves is the clearest sign to date that the global struggle for diminishing resources is shifting into a new phase. Countries may find it hard to obtain key materials at any price.

    Alistair Stephens, from Australia’s rare metals group Arafura, said his contacts in China had been shown a copy of the draft -- `Rare Earths Industry Devlopment Plan 2009-2015’. Any decision will be made by China’s State Council.

    “This isn’t about the China holding the world to ransom. They are saying we need these resources to develop our own economy and achieve energy efficiency, so go find your own supplies”, he said. (snip)

    (snip)New technologies have since increased the value and strategic importance of these metals, but it will take years for fresh supply to come on stream from deposits in Australia, North America, and South Africa. The rare earth family are hard to find, and harder to extract.

    Mr Stephens said Arafura’s project in Western Australia produces terbium, which sells for $800,000 a tonne. It is a key ingredient in low-energy light-bulbs. China needs all the terbium it produces as the country switches wholesale from tungsten bulbs to the latest low-wattage bulbs that cut power costs by 40pc.

    No replacement has been found for neodymium that enhances the power of magnets at high heat and is crucial for hard-disk drives, wind turbines, and the electric motors of hybrid cars. Each Toyota Prius uses 25 pounds of rare earth elements. Cerium and lanthanum are used in catalytic converters for diesel engines. Europium is used in lasers.

    Blackberries, iPods, mobile phones, plasma TVs, navigation systems, and air defence missiles all use a sprinkling of rare earth metals. They are used to filter viruses and bacteria from water, and cleaning up Sarin gas and VX nerve agents. (snip)

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    Default Re: China leaks plans to 'starve' foreign competition in hybrid cars & computers

    Wait, wait, so we are conserving the earth by mining even more rare materials?

    what the heck?
    Yes, I'm real.

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    Default Re: China leaks plans to 'starve' foreign competition in hybrid cars & computers

    it's the same sort of US-centric logic error that also applies to 'cash for clunkers' supposedly reducing pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions ...

    Yes a new fuel efficient car does burn less fuel / emit less tailpipe exhaust / emit less CO2 than the traded-in clunker that will be destroyed. However, had that clunker not been destroyed, odds are that it would have been resold to a poor American or exported to a foreign country and would have replaced an even worse clunker that emitted even more tailpipe exhaust / emitted more CO2 than the traded-in clunker did. Thus while the 'cash for clunkers' program locally cleans up the environment a bit within the USA, it actually makes the environment worse in other parts of the world.

    The destruction of clunkers trade-in vehicles also forces the production of more new cars than would otherwise have been the case had the clunkers remained in the used car market. New car production requires tremendous amounts of oil based products (plastics) and tremendous amounts of energy intensive products ( steel / aluminum etc. ) that might otherwise not have been consumed, as well as generating more pollution / CO2 that might otherwise not have been emitted.

    But the real issue with the Chinese is that most if not all of the supposedly 'earth saving' green technologies are extremely dependent on rare earth elements for their performance ... from high efficiency compact flourescent light bulbs to electric / hybrid vehicle motors to windmill generators etc. Without these rare earth elements, the available performance of these technologies using common materials instead is much less efficient thus much less cost-effective ( which is to say totally non-cost effective given that the best of these technologies is only made to appear to be cost effective via the injection of gov't subsidies i.e. taxpayer money).

    And as the article states, 95% of such rare earth materials now come from China ... because China is able to mine and process them without the worker safety / environmental protection / high labor costs that would exist if those rare earth materials were mined and processed in the US or other 'developed' countries. Low Chinese pricing for rare earth materials has actually caused every US source to close down because they simply can't mine and refine at a cost that allows them to turn a profit! Thus if China decides to cut off or restrict exports of their comparatively low cost rare earth materials, most of the 'green technologies' outside of China will rapidly die from outright lack of supply or be priced into oblivion due to ridiculously high priced supply of rare earth materials from 'developed' country sources.

    I would also point out that this story is not to be found in mainstream US media, along with many other stories / reports which arguably paint a somewhat truer picture of 'green technologies' ... particularly so in regard to negative consequences felt in other parts of the world that offset the arguably positive consequences within the USA !

    ~
    Last edited by Melonie; 08-25-2009 at 05:58 PM.

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    Default Re: China leaks plans to 'starve' foreign competition in hybrid cars & computers

    Quote Originally Posted by Melonie View Post
    it's the same sort of US-centric logic error that also applies to 'cash for clunkers' supposedly reducing pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions ...

    Yes a new fuel efficient car does burn less fuel / emit less tailpipe exhaust / emit less CO2 than the traded-in clunker that will be destroyed. However, had that clunker not been destroyed, odds are that it would have been resold to a poor American or exported to a foreign country and would have replaced an even worse clunker that emitted even more tailpipe exhaust / emitted more CO2 than the traded-in clunker did. Thus while the 'cash for clunkers' program locally cleans up the environment a bit within the USA, it actually makes the environment worse in other parts of the world.

    ~
    No, if the clunker were exported to a poor foreign country, it most likely would be added to the total number of cars there, rather than replace another vehicle.

    If the clunker was a big SUV, there's a good chance that it would have emitted more exhausts than the cars many poorer Americans drive, even if it was newer.

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    Default Re: China leaks plans to 'starve' foreign competition in hybrid cars & computers

    Quote Originally Posted by eagle2 View Post
    No, if the clunker were exported to a poor foreign country, it most likely would be added to the total number of cars there, rather than replace another vehicle.

    If the clunker was a big SUV, there's a good chance that it would have emitted more exhausts than the cars many poorer Americans drive, even if it was newer.
    Cars in Third World countries are notorious polluters. Many have no anti-pollution devices and/or the owners remove pcv's and catalytic converters.
    Last edited by Eric Stoner; 08-26-2009 at 08:30 AM.
    A
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    Teddy Roosevelt

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    Default Re: China leaks plans to 'starve' foreign competition in hybrid cars & computers

    Cars in Third World countries are notorious polluters. Many have no anti-pollution devices and/or the owners remove pcv's and catalytic converters.
    ^^^ and the older the car, the more it pollutes. By 'destroying' 700,000 US clunkers, this probably means that 700,000 even older even higher polluting ultra-clunkers will remain on the road somewhere in the world that would otherwise have been replaced with 'newer' and less polluting clunkers.




    But all of the cash for clunkers discussion in this thread really only has one purpose ... i.e. to illustrate by analogy to the rare earth mineral mining and refining issue that the official government / mainstream news media reports of 'green' technologies and initiatives typically fail to report the 'brown' consequences of those same technologies and initiatives ( because the 'brown' aspects are usually confined to China and other 3rd world countries and thus out of sight of most Americans). Thus many Americans who choose to look no farther than the official gov't announcement and mainstream media echo assume that these programs are actually accomplishing something in the way of energy conservation, environmental improvement etc. While this is true within those Americans' immediate field of view, it is typically not true on a global level ... i.e. energy savings and environmental cleanup in the USA is overshadowed by increased energy consumption and environmental damage in China and other 3rd world countries which is a direct or indirect consequence of the American energy conservation and environmental improvement initiative.

    ~
    Last edited by Melonie; 08-26-2009 at 01:18 PM.

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