According to the US Geological Survey (www.USGS.gov) deposits of REE-bearing ore exist in California, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, New York, Wyoming, and Alaska. Substantial reserves also exist in Australia, Canada, South Africa, Greenland, Brazil, and Vietnam. In spite of having 36% of the world’s identified reserves, China accounts for 95 % of global REE production.
Read more: http://technorati.com/politics/article/rare-earth-elements-not-so-rare/#ixzz1pLn74N1K
Even as the U.S. mounts a legal challenge to China's stranglehold on the global market for a class of key minerals, the U.S. Defense Department is playing down the impact on the U.S. military of the Chinese export limits.
The minerals, known as rare earths, are critical to military applications—including smart bombs, laser guidance systems and night-vision equipment—but in a new report, the Defense Department said such uses represent only a "small fraction" of U.S. demand and that military needs can largely be met domestically.
"The growing U.S. supply of these materials is increasingly capable of meeting the consumption of the defense industrial base," says the report, which has been circulated to selected members of Congress in recent days and has been reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Whatever the eventual implications for world supplies of rare earths, in some ways a recent Western victory on a somewhat related trade case may have strengthened China’s hand.
The World Trade Organization ordered China last July to dismantle export duties and quotas on nine other industrial raw materials, including bauxite. An appeals tribunal upheld the ruling and added details in late January.
China has been able to study those orders as it has redesigned its export restrictions on rare earths. The new quotas are as stringent as the old ones, making it harder for Western manufacturers to obtain rare earths in the quantities and with the timeliness their factories require. But the revamped quota rules could be easier for China to defend in front of a W.T.O. tribunal, than its earlier policies would have been.
China, for example, has begun requiring its rare earth exporters to obtain a certificate of environmental compliance before they are allowed to make any overseas shipments. That could strengthen China’s claim that export quotas on rare earths are environmentally necessary. Without dispute, the mining and processing of rare earths have many toxic and even radioactive byproducts — which is one reason the West and Japan for decades were reluctant to produce them.
A Malaysian group representing villagers and civil groups will file a legal challenge to the government's decision to approve a massive rare earths plant by Lynas, the Australian mining company .
The Atomic Energy Licensing Board announced late on Wednesday it would grant Lynas a license to operate the first rare earths plant outside China in years, despite public protests over fears of radioactive pollution.
It said Lynas must submit plans for a permanent disposal facility within 10 months and make a $50mn financial guarantee.
Malaysia hopes the Lynas plant will spur growth. But the project has been the subject of heated protests over health and environmental risks posed by potential leaks of radioactive waste.
Florence Looi reports from the eastern Malaysian city of Kuantan.
Although it decreased in the past few years, the export quotas are still higher than the demand of the world market. Besides setting quotas for rare earth exports, China also takes measures to manage rare earth's exploitation, production and other activities. China complies with the rules of WTO environmental exceptions by treating domestic and foreign industries without discrimination, rather than "protects the domestic industries in a distorting way" as the western countries speculate.
In fact, it is not China that is selfish but the United States, the EU, and Japan that are aggressive. They know deeply the importance of protecting the rare earth resources and had already banned or restricted the exploitation of their own rare earth. China has done nothing more than reversing the long-standing, out-of-order mining conditions, focusing on domestic economic and environmental development, international trade balance as well as sustainable development
However, advertised as the "human rights" and "green" defenders, the United States, together with Europe and Japan, has several times pressed China "to comply with the rules of the WTO”, castigating the "unfair" trade. We cannot help but want to ask, whether the restrictions over high tech products export is a violation of free trade rules, and whether it should be punished.
It has existed for a long time that western countries deliberately abuse WTO rules for the benefit of themselves. They arm themselves with rules which are good for themselves, bypassing the rules what are bad.
Conflict, friction is not terrible. As long as we respond positively, make use of relevant rules of trade, and actively promote the perfect trade rules, China will be able to grasp more of the initiative in international trades and maintain good economic interests of the country.
Western hypocrisy in full bloom - Columnist - New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnist/western-hypocrisy-in-full-bloom-1.61401#ixzz1pM2p9RnI
This week, the US, European Union and Japan have brought the matter up to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and accused China of unfair trading practices.
That the Chinese are apprehensive about the move is hardly a surprise, for it marks a significant shift in the tone and tenor of its trade relations with other developed nations. That the Chinese may be somewhat annoyed by all this talk of unfair trading practices is also understandable if we were to look at how the concept of fair trade has been applied to China over the past two centuries.
In the 19th century, "free trade" meant that China was forced to open its markets to the import of opium, which led to widespread opium addiction among the population, debilitating its economy and people, and was the catalyst to the so-called "opium wars" of the 19th century.
Today, in the name of "free trade" China is being compelled to open up its economy again -- so that it may sell its rare earth to other more powerful trading nations. Which brings us to the question of politics or, specifically, the politics of free trade and the environment.
The same hypocricy is present in the attack on China over solar energy.
"If some politicians have their way, there won't be any more public investments in solar energy," Obama said of his Republican critics. "If these guys were around when Columbus set sail, they'd be charter members of the Flat Earth Society."
The WTO rules, a single set of comprehensive world-wide trade rules, require member countries commit to the fundamental obligations of non-discrimination, lowering trade barriers, non-quantitative restrictions and transparency in the administration of their trade related economic system. But the WTO rules also respect the sovereignty of member states in certain prescribed circumstances.
The WTO rules guarantee member countries a balance between their international obligations and national sovereignty by permitting the adoption or enforcement of measures in certain instances. In particular, Article XX of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade allows measures "necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health" or "relating to the conservation of exhaustible natural resources".
This judgment erodes China's sovereign right to protect the health of its people and conserve its natural resources. A right retained by all member states when they subject themselves to WTO trade rules. The dispute settlement body denied China the right to use Article XX of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to justify its export duties on raw materials, simply because the export duty section of China's WTO accession protocol does not explicitly mention this article.
The ruling of the dispute settlement body needs further discussion. It's obvious that the core clauses in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade for countries' obligations regarding non-discrimination and non-quantitative restrictions don't mention Article XX either, and yet member states don't lose the rights contained in this Article.
The treatment that China has received begs the question as to why the protective umbrella the WTO gives to all the member states in Article XX does not apply to China.