Say goodbye to your flat-screen TV and that new car battery you were going to buy. In late July China announced that they would be decreasing the supply of rare earth metals to the rest of the world. Now it may not seem like an obvious connection but these rare earth metals in question are the materials that help produce our flat-screen monitors, car batteries, and many more products we manufacture and sell. Now the question comes to, why is China doing this?
China is the world's largest exporter of rare-earth metals and they just announced that they will be decreasing their export amount by about 40%. This is not good news for many parts of the world that have been relying on these rare-earth metals to manufacture their products.
China claims that they are reducing the export amount because of environmental and safety reasons. It can become very dangerous to extract these metals from the earth and depending on where they are extracting the metals, there can be serious polluting and environmental hazard concerns. This is a legitimate concern for China but now the rest of the world is not only questioning this environmental claim but wondering what there next move should be.
Some have speculated that it is not the environmental concern that China is focused on but the new realization that they have power over a resource that they can use in their favor. Others are questioning if China will become a monopoly of sorts. With control over the rare earth metals supply, China can then start to control the other manufacturing of products that require these rare earth metals in their production.
Whichever the reason may be China has spurred a quick reaction internationally on how to handle this new crisis. Many areas are already looking to mine the metals in their own country. While some are trying to negotiate other means of acquiring these metals.
The future will only tell how many flat-screens we will lose in the battle.