by Paul Driessen
“China’s control of a key minerals market has US military thinkers and policy makers worried about access to materials that are essential for 21st-century technology like smartphones – and smart bombs,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Plus stealth fighter jets, digital cameras, computer hard drives – and wind turbine magnets, solar panels, hybrid and electric car batteries, compact fluorescent light bulbs, catalytic converters, and more.
China’s dominance in mining and processing 17 “rare earth” metals “has raised alarms in Washington,” says the Journal. These unique metallic elements have powerful magnetic properties that make them sine qua non for high-tech, miniaturized and renewable energy equipment.
China currently produces fully 97% of the world’s rare-earth oxides, the raw materials that can be refined into metals and blended into specialty alloys for defense, commercial and power-generation components. However, the Middle Kingdom has slashed its rare-earth oxide and metal exports. (more…)