Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Self-induced shortage of critical minerals

Our high-tech industries are facing shortages of the rare-earth minerals, which are used in solar panels, iPhone… and the Toyota Prius! China is home to most of the world's production of most of them, so they are enjoying monopoly profits.
But Fourteen states in the US have some of these minerals, but we are not mining them. The bureaucrats rule: "Just one more form, I mean, ten more." Congress could do something about this self-inflicted wound.

Human Events
Strategic minerals that are essential components in green and high technology such as hybrid cars, iPods and solar panels are readily available in the U.S. but efforts to mine the elements are being stalled by bureaucrats for years, industry officials say. 
“The United States is heavily reliant on foreign countries such as China for critical minerals that are the building blocks of our economy and imperative to renewable energy development, military technology and the manufacturing of nearly all of our electronic devices,” said Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chairman of the House Resources Committee. 
There are 15 such rare earth minerals worth more than $6 trillion, including terbium, yttrium and dysprosium that are found throughout the U.S. 
To increase access, Republican lawmakers are supporting legislation called the Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act that they say tackles the highest hurdle of getting the needed permits to begin mining operations. 
… The Toyota Prius uses more of the mineral than any other consumer product, including lanthanum and cerium in the battery, yttrium in the component sensors, dysprosium and terbium in the motor and generator and neodymium in the headlight glass.
(I couldn't name one of them, but I just learned that some batteries use lanthanum. Remember that.)

The photo: Mining in Jiangxi Province, China. Click to enlarge.

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