Friday, September 28, 2012

Mineral Trade War Looms In East Asia

The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands dispute
is a continuing source of tension
between Japan and China.
NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA (THE AUSTRALIAN)--Due to the recent flare-up of a territory dispute between China and Japan, China is reportedly planning to halt all rare earth sales to Japan. Japanese companies are scrambling to find alternate sources, which shows in recent deals with companies like Lynas Corp and Alkane Resources. Unfortunately these sources have lower concentrations of  heavy rare earths such as dysprosium and neodymium that Japanese companies require to make everything from wind turbines to handheld electronics. In light of China's recent attempts to corner the global gold market, experts are also keeping watch on gold prices. Source: Rare earths a victim of Japan-China islands spat (Reliability: Medium)

Comment: China enacted a similar rare earth embargo on Japan in 2010, causing the price of some rare metals to more than triple. Two years later but still with few alternate sources for the heavy rare earth metals, Japan again faces potential shortages. Alkane Resources' Dubbo Project does contain heavy rare earths, but since Japanese companies will be required to process the metals in Japan it will almost certainly take a few years to develop before it significantly affects global prices.

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