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Rare earths get rarer

8/8/2011 03:58 PM EDT
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krisi
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re: Rare earths get rarer
krisi   8/8/2011 6:42:26 PM
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These shortages will create short term pain but will force poeple to use more widely available materials in the future so I am convinced we will recover from this problem...Kris

dleske
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re: Rare earths get rarer
dleske   8/9/2011 2:55:18 AM
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Phosphor supply restrictions may advance the use of Quantum Dot materials as alternatives. These also offer potential for both higher efficacy and a better tuned light spectrum.

chanj0
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re: Rare earths get rarer
chanj0   8/8/2011 7:16:05 PM
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As the increase in demand and hike in price, the potential profit is like higher. By supply and demand model, there will be more suppliers in the future. Whether the price will go down as the model describes is another story. I agree with Iniewski, we will recover from this problem until we hit the real wall, a real shortage of supply.

R_Colin_Johnson
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re: Rare earths get rarer
R_Colin_Johnson   8/8/2011 8:04:56 PM
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The irony about rare earths is that they are not really that rare (n the Earth's crust)), but rather that there are just not very many mines open. As more mines do open (outside China) the problem will also be mitigated by alternative materials, like the nitirdes mentions here, which can be synthesized in the lab without the need for any mining at all. In the short term, however, China will probably convince many manufacturers to move operations there.

ManasK.RayChaudhuri
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re: Rare earths get rarer
ManasK.RayChaudhuri   8/9/2011 4:25:11 AM
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W#hy India is not explored as a source for rare earth materials?

krisi
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re: Rare earths get rarer
krisi   8/8/2011 8:10:12 PM
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Good point Colin...this might be ultimately a plot to force many corporations to open operations in China...Kris

Some Guy
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re: Rare earths get rarer
Some Guy   8/8/2011 8:28:35 PM
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Back in 1886, Hyacinth Secretan and the Copper Syndicate tried to corner the market on copper, all the rage at the dawn of electricity. In the end, all he did was encourage switching to other materials, and make the reclaimation of copper profitable -- at which point the market collapsed and his syndicate was sitting on more copper than it could pay for. I suspect that the same is in the offing for the Peoples Republic of China. Ironic if it leads to the revolution that finally overthrows the provably defunct centrally planned economy.

KB3001
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re: Rare earths get rarer
KB3001   8/9/2011 11:45:54 AM
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I agree. If China is too aggressive in this policy, it will come back to bite them. History is full of examples where this actually happened.

Bert22306
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re: Rare earths get rarer
Bert22306   8/8/2011 9:23:02 PM
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When it comes to phosphors needed in lighting, I may suggest that a better way to create white light, at least for LEDs, is to mix the three primary colors. You get a more useful white light, more easily adjustable, could even be made user adjustable, and no need for any phosphors. Of course, it goes without saying, any reliance on an individual country for a needed raw material will lead to artificial price hikes and shortages. It's entirely up to the rest of us to mitigate the problem, I think.

dleske
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re: Rare earths get rarer
dleske   8/9/2011 3:07:45 AM
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Using RGB LED combinations, the limit presently is the poor efficacy of available Green LEDs, compared to Blue and Red. Presently, a Blue LED with Green/Yellow phosphor creates more visible light than a direct Green/Yellow LED. This is an active area of research, and there are reports of promising advances. Using RGB mixing to produce 'white' light gives a lower CRI (colour rendering index) than white LEDs using a broad-spectrum phosphor. For example, your eye sees Green+Red as yellow, but neither of them may reflect much from a Yellow banana, making it look brown! Yet observers generally consider RGB illumination to give more attractive looking colours. For this reason, a new CQS (colour quality system) measure is being developed.

ManasK.RayChaudhuri
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re: Rare earths get rarer
ManasK.RayChaudhuri   8/9/2011 4:27:24 AM
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Agreed.Even a flashlight with Blue LED gives better lighting and durability of the source.

Code Monkey
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re: Rare earths get rarer
Code Monkey   8/8/2011 10:47:18 PM
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America plays Monopoly, China plays chess.

ManasK.RayChaudhuri
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re: Rare earths get rarer
ManasK.RayChaudhuri   8/9/2011 4:29:37 AM
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We should get rid off the games played by these countries and resort to competitions in the open field.

qerqwe
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re: Rare earths get rarer
qerqwe   8/10/2011 12:01:37 AM
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Right! And we are going to do this HOW?

Dwight.Day
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re: Rare earths get rarer
Dwight.Day   8/12/2011 8:14:21 PM
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China plays go

Brian.Faley
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re: Rare earths get rarer
Brian.Faley   8/8/2011 11:15:12 PM
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This is no new news. China has been flexing its rare-earth bully card for years. What is a greater concern is why the US was so willing to sell out its domestic production for a song, and then complain that China was hording.

Bert22306
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re: Rare earths get rarer
Bert22306   8/8/2011 11:23:28 PM
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Exactly! My bet is, the bean counters determined that importing from China was cheaper than producing our own. As always, you attempt to maximize profit. No surprise that this gives China leverage. It's up to us to create the opposing force. As always in business. No sense whining about what we do to ourselves.

ssliva
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re: Rare earths get rarer
ssliva   8/12/2011 5:55:52 PM
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Businesses will simply have to consider China as an aggregate to be a sole source. That won't help China.

jaybus0
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re: Rare earths get rarer
jaybus0   8/9/2011 10:54:57 AM
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Mines were not sold out in the US and Europe. They were simply shut down, because they were no longer profitable, due to China's cheaper labor, far less stringent safety and environmental rules, and price fixing.

dleske
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re: Rare earths get rarer
dleske   8/9/2011 2:52:41 AM
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Does it surprise anyone, that once the Chinese have acquired a supply monopoly (under-cutting prices, so other rare-earth suppliers shut down), they now capitalise on it to boost their domestic phosphor, LED and fluorescent manufacturing industry?! It has been obvious to me for years that China's long-term plan was to become the world's manufacturer by price cutting, than later milk that dependence for profit and influence. Now no-one can afford to anger China.

ibm221
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ibm221   8/9/2011 7:30:04 AM
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have you guys heard about enviormental pollution caused by rare earth. China has tightened it's enviorment code and lead to this situation which is just fair and cool. how about US start digging all it's oil reserves and trade with china.

mna41
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mna41   8/9/2011 10:06:39 PM
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The US prattles about "free markets" and allows other nations to compete on equal terms in our domestic markets. Meanwhile nations like China practice mercantilist economics. To a large extent it's "heads they win, tails we lose" economically.

goafrit
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re: Rare earths get rarer
goafrit   8/9/2011 3:37:35 AM
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Let is be and it will force us to recycle even the rarest things on earth. That is not a bad thing to happen

qerqwe
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qerqwe   8/10/2011 12:03:03 AM
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AGREE

krisi
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re: Rare earths get rarer
krisi   8/9/2011 2:18:58 PM
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Recycling is very good in principle...but how efficient is the system of rare metal recovery considering that they are usually used in small quantities on per unit basis? anyone attempting to do so? Kris

KB3001
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KB3001   8/9/2011 4:08:15 PM
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I guess you would end up spending more than it's worth because of the small quantities involved, indeed.

docdivakar
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re: Rare earths get rarer
docdivakar   8/11/2011 5:10:42 PM
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@iniewski: you have a valid point here. The recover from capacitive touch screens is negligible and one most likely expends more in doing so. The solutin lies in alternative technologies as mentioned in your earlier point. Necessity is indeed the mother of all inventions! Progress in resistive touch technology which uses non-rare earth's (ITO) is one example that can alleviate this problem. Other needs like in auto industry (catalytic converters, for eg.) need R&D to find alternates. USGS has a good report on the status of rare earths including reserves at this link: http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/rare_earths/mcs-2011-raree.pdf According to this, India's reserves are less than 1/4th of USA's. Dr. MP Divakar

Nick1000
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re: Rare earths get rarer
Nick1000   8/9/2011 4:54:00 PM
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When the alternate suppliers are just about to get their rare earth operations going China will remove restrictions on exports and the price will go down again and the new operations outside China will again go out of business. Smart businessmen. Would you do it any other way?

krisi
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re: Rare earths get rarer
krisi   8/9/2011 5:00:25 PM
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I agree @Nick1000...regardless how you feel about this situation (see some post above) you have to admit that China is exploiting this game effectively...apparently the system of state controlled economy can have its advantages over free markets...Kris

selinz
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re: Rare earths get rarer
selinz   8/9/2011 5:12:58 PM
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US has tons of mines that have been closed for a number of reasons, not the least being EPA mandated. if you look up rare earths on Wiki, you see that the US was the largest producer to the mid 80's. China can cause short term problems but in the long term, the US has alternatives.

chipmonk0
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chipmonk0   8/9/2011 5:25:00 PM
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There can be no technical spolution to Chinese manipulation / restriction of REM supply. Any new technology developed within the US aor the West will be promptly siphoned off to China by our own Corp.s who are in the bed w/ China. Over the last 3 decades we have created a Frankensteins' MONSTER and that is CHINA. The rewards of Outsourcing to China has been totally asymmetric. The common consumer in the West has gotten at most a 10 % savings at Wal Mart but this has come at the expense of 10 % unemployment and collateral costs to the general public Govt.s at least 3x of Trade Deficit w/ China and its growing power and resource consumption. Only Wall St. and large investors have benefited from China's growth at the expense of the economies of the US, Japan and the developed countries of Europe. They have 1. outsourced most manufacturing to China, invested in China, 2. transferred to China manufacturing and other technologies developed within the US at Govt. and taxpayer expense, 3. had the best US universities open their doors to Chinese Grad students who have infiltrated US industries and those who return home take back a few hard disks worth of US know how and diminsih US compettiveness The net cost to US econmy from trading with China has been a Trade Deficit of US $ 300 billion per year but when you add to it the cost of unemeployment here, reduced tax base. higher oil & raw material prices, siphoning off of US know how by US Corp.s, China's own Cyber crimes & IP theft, larger US defense expenditure etc., Chinese influence on US investors and therefore politicians it is at least 3X of the Trade Deficit. So over the last 20 years the US public has lost to China at least US $ 15 trillion, a no. in excess of the current US deficit o $ 14 trillion. Compared to that the $2 trillion or so that the US Corp..s and Hedge Funds have accumulated from China Trade is peanuts .

Bert22306
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re: Rare earths get rarer
Bert22306   8/10/2011 12:17:20 AM
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It's all about short term profits. We all know that businesses themselves don't worry too much about what lies 20 years down the road. One way to look at this is that in the West, people are able to afford all manner of low-cost products, essentially on the backs of the underpaid labor in China and elsewhere. That's how we all can afford gorgeous huge, HDTVs, for instance. Another way to look at it is that this constitutes "foreign aid." A third way to look at it is that this fosters instability in countries where labor is too cheap, which in turn will lead to reform (or revolt) and eventual leveling of the playing field for everyone. E.g., labor in Japan can no longer be considered cheap.

chipmonk0
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re: Rare earths get rarer
chipmonk0   8/10/2011 6:22:58 PM
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Have you ever bothered to estimate how long it will take to " level the playing field " with China ? After WW II Japan had a population 1/2 that of the US and a std. of living 1/3 rd that of the US. It took them 40 years to catch up and in the process basically destroyed the US auto industry and much of the unionized middle class. China now has 4x the population of the US and 1/8 the per capita buying power. So go do the Math ! What would your grand children's lives be like ?

Bert22306
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re: Rare earths get rarer
Bert22306   8/10/2011 6:36:57 PM
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Yup, it takes decades. Meanwhile, for everyone who wrings his hands about how manufacturing is going overseas, I'll show you someone who buys cars made in Korea and who regularly shops at Walmart. There's no sense in getting sanctimonious about things that even individuals won't change, when they have a choice. Let alone businesses that would like to survive until next year. In any case, just because a country is huge does not mean that change can't occur, even very quickly, once it gets started. Look what happened to the Soviet Block in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and look at what's happening in the ME today. Things do change fast, when enough people become discontented.

chipmonk0
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re: Rare earths get rarer
chipmonk0   8/11/2011 6:09:44 PM
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Clearly we have different POV on free trade w/ China. I can only site the 10 % unemployment as a tangible evidence for my line of thinking. If free trade continues the same way wih giant China goaded by its monolithic & Totalitarian / Imperialist govt. and a society that has never had any qualms about eating any animal that moves, then don't regret when your own grand-children figuratively end up at the tip of their chop sticks in 25 years.

JasonCurry
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re: Rare earths get rarer
JasonCurry   8/11/2011 12:29:51 AM
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This is pathetic! Use other country as an excuse to cover the horrible government policy these years.

mna41
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re: Rare earths get rarer
mna41   8/9/2011 10:00:23 PM
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Hey, folks! Phosphors for LEDs and fluorescent lighting doesn't account for all of rare earth demand. There are a variety of technology-intensive uses for rare earths. Rare earth magnets, for example, are important in automobiles, microwave technologies, and elsewhere.

RWatkins
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re: Rare earths get rarer
RWatkins   8/10/2011 2:41:13 PM
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This all seems like much ado about nothing. Agreed that China is now on an upward path and using any tools it can get to dominate world trade. This does sound a little familiar. However, as was briefly mentioned in the comments, there are risks in so doing that generally shift the playing field. In the case of phosphors, there are nitrides and silicates, which might have been left undeveloped had greed not intervened. In the case of rare earth magnets, the impetus has been re-established for use of switch reluctance motors (to replace BLDC in many applications), III-V semiconductor direct oscillators and amplifiers (to replace magnetrons and similar amplifier/oscillator schemes), and others. Necessity is the mother of invention, and a need is often established by shortages. So lets spend productive time schemeing and implementing inventive solutions, and avoid wasted time whining when the easy solution is "restricted".

Charles.Desassure
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re: Rare earths get rarer
Charles.Desassure   8/10/2011 2:48:46 PM
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There's nothing rare here...You are l00% correct here..."It's all about short term profits."

stixoffire
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re: Rare earths get rarer
stixoffire   8/11/2011 7:17:25 AM
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Very few Businesses make it to 100. Why is that ? Short Term,does that = short sighted, and POOR planning for the future! How many companies have made it to 100 ? In the world I wonder if they are really slim pickens.

Bert22306
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re: Rare earths get rarer
Bert22306   8/11/2011 8:52:37 PM
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Except, Chipmonk, we do not have a centrally planned economy. That's the main point in all of this. Unless you want the government to get involved in dealings between businesses too, or unless you want the government to fine Walmart for every Chinese-made product they stock (would come close to emptying their stores), or unless you want the govt to throw every consumer in jail for buying Chinese-made products, there's not much that the govt can or would do. Individuals seem perfectly happy with this state of affairs. Else, they would change their own buying habits. There's no doubt in my mind that open trade with other countries tends to reign in our own standard of living, while increasing that of poorer countries. Reigning in our standard of living is the unintended consequence of US consumers always "looking for the best deal." No sense pointing the finger at anyone else, ESPECIALLY not at China.

jgriffith
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re: Rare earths get rarer
jgriffith   8/11/2011 11:34:37 PM
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Hi Bert, The USA is a centrally planned economy -- that is of the whole point of environmental laws. Environmental laws have almost nothing to do with the environment but are instead all about central planning. It's how the government rewards political donors. Try building anything in the Silicon Valley without a political connection - it's harder to do here than in China. Worse, try cutting down a tree on your property that you planted a few years back in the bay area and you'll learn a few things about central planning. Ever wonder why our economy performs just like every centrally planned economies. A massive amount of the fed stimulus and bailouts were central planning.

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