You read that correctly. China has suddenly stopped exporting its rare minerals to the US and the EU, overnight. China had already stopped exporting its rare minerals to Japan for about a month.
"The embargo is expanding" beyond Japan, said one of the three rare earth industry officials, all of whom insisted on remaining anonymity for fear of business retaliation by Chinese authorities.China produces ~95% of the world's rare Earth minerals. Minerals used to make cell phones, wind turbines, and guided missiles, among many other things, in other words, we NEED these minerals to maintain our way of life.
Currently, there has been no word from China as to when we can expect this embargo to end.
Without mentioning whether customs officials were interfering with statements to the West this week, the statement also said that, “China will continue to export rare earth to the world, and at the same time, in order to conserve exhaustible resources and maintain sustainable development, China will also continue imposing relevant restrictions on the mining, manufacture and export of rare earths.”
The inquiry includes whether China’s steady reductions in rare earth export quotas since 2005, along with steep export taxes on rare earths, are illegal attempts to force multinational companies to produce more of their high-technology goods in China.Wang Baodong, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, said that the embargo and other recent actions taken by the Chinese government were to protect the environment.
This is an obvious lie, we all know that the Chinese couldn't care less about the environment. I'm generalizing, but the Chinese don't have the best track record when it comes to that kind of thing.
Congress is considering legislation to provide loan guarantees for the re-establishment of rare earth mining and manufacturing in the United States. But new mines are likely to take three to five years to reach full production, according to industry executives.Maybe this embargo is a blessing in disguise. The embargo will force the US to become more self-reliant and this will create more jobs in the United States.
The article doesn't actually say what "rare earth minerals" are, specifically, but upon further research I found this article:
According to the article, the term "rare earth mineral" is a bit of misnomer dating back to the first recorded finding of rare earth minerals by a Swedish lieutenant in 1787. Rare earth minerals are generally defined as minerals that are comprised of rare earth elements, which are the elements found at the bottom of the periodic table. Depending on which scientists you talk to, there are about 15 - 17 rare earth minerals on Earth. As stated previously, China exports about 95% of them to the world, but are we reliant on China for our rare earth mineral needs? No. Several rare earth minerals are more abundant in the Earth's crust than lead or nitrogen. Although some rare earth elements are rare.
This whole embargo ordeal is an act of economic warfare on China's part. They know what they're doing. They want to show the world that we are dependent on them and that they're top dog now, but the like the Arab imposed oil embargo in the 1970's, I think China will only end up hurting themselves. The US, EU, and Japan need only to find imports elsewhere or to find our own rare earth minerals. If the US, EU, and Japan do that, then they won't need China anymore and when China stops the embargo, they'll have no one to export their minerals too.
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/20/business/global/20rare.html?_r=1