Skip to comments.Fantastic Overview Of China And Its Death Grip On Rare Earth Metals
Posted on 06/03/2010 3:13:26 PM PDT by blam
Fantastic Overview Of China And Its Death Grip On Rare Earth Metals
Jun. 3, 2010, 5:11 PM
Image: U.S. Marines
Yesterday the world was greeted with the news that China intends to tighten its grip over rare earth metals, the highly valuable commodities that are used in everything from defense to green tech.
That China would do something like this has been fretted about for awhile, and it's why the US government sees rare earths as a matter of national security.
However this plays out, we suspect the subject to get A LOT more attention going forward, so we're going to keep trying to learn more about it.
The big domestic player is MolyCorp, which cites the following presentation from Australia's Industrial Minerals Corp in explaining the economics of the business. It's from 2008, but it's all very pertinent, perhaps even more so.
Click here to see the presentation >
(Excerpt) Read more at businessinsider.com ...
As an aside, the United States has two enormous rare earth mines. One is in California, and the other in Texas, under a lake.
The Mountain Pass, California deposit contains 8% to 12% rare earth oxides. It is regarded as a world-class rare-earth mineral deposit. The metals that can be extracted from it include: Cerium, Lanthanum, Neodymium and Europium.
Known remaining reserves were estimated to exceed 20 million tons of ore as of 2008, using a 5% cutoff grade, and averaging 8.9% rare earth oxides.
Baringer Hill lies on the former west side of the Colorado river, beneath Lake Buchanan. It has an abundance of minerals, including many of the rare earth elements. But a complete, modern survey has not been conducted, for obvious reasons.
You, yefragetuwrabrumuy see the reasons as "obvious" because you understand the situation. Cool. That said, what are the obvious reasons?
Platinum Group Metals (PeGgyMays): below is the solution. We have the technology to mine, smelt, and manufacture in space - we just have to have the determination. China might just be the shock and prod the US needs to get going on this project.
“The scarcity of the precious metals is not really that there are not lots of them on Earth, it is just that over 4 billion years of tectonic mixing they have mostly moved to Earth’s core. What little is near the surface is hard to find and therefore expensive (like $10,000 per pound for platinum).”
“These same metals are not hidden on asteroids, since there has been no tectonic action and almost no gravity. There is more precious metals in one asteroid than we could every hope to mine from all the crust of the Earth.”
One whole heck of a lot of water sitting on top of it. The last time it was mined was about the same time they started using tungsten filaments in light bulbs.
However, once the price of rare earth minerals starts skyrocketing, that water is going to look a whole lot less valuable.
I figure the best bet would be 433 Eros, which would be robotically mined, then the metals concentrated somewhat.
The best part is that the asteroid rotates, and could have a cable connect to one end. The big ball of mostly metal would be reeled out, the centrifugal force of the asteroid accelerating it until it is thrown like a rock from a sling, in the general direction of where Earth is going to be.
These elements are called “rare-earth” because they are, well, rare.
O ye of little imagination! EVERY element is dissolved, at some level of concentration, in sea water. In the billions of years since the earth has been cool enough for liquid water to collect as lakes and seas and oceans, the mineral content of its crust has been continuously leached from the soil, and ends up a part of the mineral content of the ocean.
The means of recovery is remarkably simple in its concept - take a quantity of sea water, evaporate it down, and in the remaining brine or even solid encrustations, the elements will be much more concentrated. By heating the brine or solid mass of salt until it is molten, the various elements may be concentrated by crystalization, in stratified layers, as the molten solid cools.
And where does the potential heat source come from? The development of nuclear power, using ocean water as the cooling medium, drying down the brine, and by generation of electrical power, heating the crystals of sea salt to molten liquid. By using already known applications of engineering knowledge, most of the heat energy may be recaptured and kept in the system, with the object of producting the concentrated mineral content.
We are not providing for the future economic growth a tenth of how well we already know. What is lacking is the vision and dedication to make this new development of already existing resources a viable and expanding means to reinvent ourselves.
THANKS for posting this! I started looking into RE as a possible investment not long ago. This information helps. FReegards.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.