Rare earth: The urchins of Mining

26.03.2012
Rare earth: The urchins of Mining

According to China's export restrictions for the rare earth industrial nations seek alternatives.

Rare earths are usually only in low concentrations and then also to be found mixed with other ores.

The China's export restrictions for the rare earths have triggered an outcry. With the European Union, the United States and Japan are the major industrialized countries drawn from the World Trade Organization, to enforce the usual rules on international trade.

A bottleneck in the supply of raw materials threatens the production of high-tech equipment such as computers and smartphones. Developed countries, however, have contributed a good deal, fact that China now has the monopoly on the metals: You have left the emerging field, not least because of the enormous environmental constraints on the exploitation of resources.

“Basically, the rest of the world abandoned the promotion of rare earths ten years ago”, says Ian Chalmers, Managing Director of the Australian mining company alkanes Resources, which is concerned with the revival of business outside of China. The US-based Molycorp, then a motet because of problems with the sewage disposal its Mountain Pass mine in California, the 40 Percent of global demand for rare earths delivered. Then I slept through the world, that China became the industry Goliath, kritisiert die Denkfabrik Institute for the Analysis of Global Security.

Now comes the rude awakening. According to calculations of the mountain farmer Lynas prices have been on the world market 2009 six times and are now twice as high as in the Chinese domestic market. China produces about 90 Percent of global demand combined under the term of the rare earths 17 Elements. This includes, among other things, terbium. This silvery-gray metal can be cut with a knife and is used to manufacture fuel cells and ultra-fast computer hard drives with no moving parts (Solid State Disks) used.

Usually only present in low concentrations

Alarmed by the constraints called the Federation of German Industries (BDI) now a commodity strategy of the Federal Government. This wooing potential suppliers such as Mongolia and Kazakhstan. Russia also wants to jump into the breach and invited German investors for joint development of resources.

But is also looking at their front door: The German commodity AG has already claims to be 2,2 € million collected, to exploit in the Saxon Erzgebirge REE. In the U.S., Molycorp has already 2007 started, the Mountain Pass mine to reopen and modernize. Alkanes and Lynas have found financial backers, which are ready, to invest in the development of new deposits – provided that the environmental impact is to get a grip.

Rare earths are usually only in low concentrations and then also to be found mixed with other ores. This is an expensive treatment makes.

“Environmental standards and technology have greatly improved”, alkanes Chalmers says CEO. “The industry can now work much more environmentally friendly.” Ronald McCoy, President of the Malaysian Association of Physicists for Social Responsibility, doubts that. His group wants to prevent a refinery for processing rare earths in Malaysia. The assurances given by the operator to comply with strict conditions Lynas persuade them not.

Dirty work, leaving the emerging markets

Environmentalists accuse the rich countries, dass sie es sich zu einfach machen, wenn sie die Drecksarbeit den Schwellenländern überlassen. “Die großen Verbraucher wie die USA, die EU und Japan sollten dies als gemeinsame Verpflichtung betrachten und Abstand davon nehmen, mit dem Finger auf China zu zeigen”, sagt Greenpeace-Aktivist Ma Tianjie. Die Volksrepublik habe mehrere private Bergwerke wegen der Schäden geschlossen, die durch Förderung und Verarbeitung verursacht worden seien.

Staatliche Umwelt-Sünder wie Baotou Rare Earth sind von ähnlichen Maßnahmen bislang jedoch verschont geblieben. Der chinesischen Regierung zufolge fallen bei der Produktion Seltener Erden jährlich mehr als 20 Millionen Tonnen giftiger Abwässer an. Umweltgruppen weisen darauf hin, that in the affected regions, the risk of Krebserkrankungen,,de,Gene defects and chronic Lungenleiden increased was,,de,For critics are Umweltschutz-thought or high prices are not the main driving force of China,,de,You will see the mine closures and export restrictions as part of an industrial policy master plan,,de,There are many examples of companies,,de,on Chinese rare earth dependent are and their production facilities to China move had,,de,says David Nolan,,de,Chef von Hastings Rare Metals,,en,the a mine for rare earths expanding,,de,From an economic perspective, this is a good result for China.,,de,David Abraham,,es,freiberuflicher commodity analyst in Jakarta,,de,a similar argument,,de,Beijing uses export controls and its monopolistic position to build global companies,,de,create jobs,,de, Gen-Defekten und chronischen Lungenleiden gestiegen sei.

Für Kritiker sind Umweltschutz-Gedanke oder hohe Preise nicht die Haupt-Triebfeder Chinas. Sie sehen die Bergwerksschließungen und Export-Beschränkungen als Teil eines industriepolitischen Masterplans. “Es gibt viele Beispiele von Firmen, die auf chinesische Seltene Erden angewiesen sind und ihre Produktionsanlagen nach China verlagern mussten”, sagt David Nolan, Chef von Hastings Rare Metals, die ein Bergwerk für Seltene Erden ausbaut. “Aus wirtschaftlicher Sicht ist dies für China ein gutes Ergebnis.”

David Abraham, freiberuflicher Rohstoff-Analyst in Jakarta, argumentiert ähnlich. “Peking benutzt Export-Kontrollen und seine Monopol-Stellung zum Aufbau von Weltkonzernen, die Arbeitsplätze schaffen. It develops local companies along the lines of the Japanese Hitachi,,de,Formerly a mining company and now an electronics,,de,and Infrastructure Group.,,de – ehemals eine Bergbaufirma und nun ein Elektronik- und Infrastruktur-Konzern.”

(Reuters)

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