Rare earth metals include cerium, lanthanum, praseodymium, neodymium, samarium, europium, ytterbium, gadolinium, and herbium. These metals are a valuable raw material for the industrial production of LEDs, phosphors, catalysts, crystals for high-power lasers and superconducting magnets. In fact, this is a strategic raw material used in high-tech industries: space, aviation, nuclear industry, electronics, instrument making.
Russia, which produces only 1,4% REM from world production, is almost completely dependent on foreign supplies.
The leading “earner” is China (92,1%). It is followed by the USA (by 2 with a small percentage). Minor amounts of metals are mined in Malaysia and Brazil. This concludes the short list.
As Mikhail Bakalinsky believes ("Geopolitics"), the international "rare-earth front" today is directed against China, in the depths of which 97% of world reserves of rare-earth metals are concentrated.
It would seem, how to fight? Missiles and bombs? No, we are talking about war without weapons. And even without economics. We are dealing with a war of propagandists, a war of information.
“... with enviable regularity, the sectoral agencies of the“ democratic countries of the West ”make sensational statements about the discovery of enormous reserves of rare earth elements capable of swinging the pendulum away from China. So, the New Year's gift to Chinese partners within a few days before 2013 began was statements by the “completely unbiased” Institute of International Studies of Denmark about the possible presence in the depths of Greenland (the subject of the same Denmark with extended autonomy) REE deposits, in particular niobium and tantalum, which could provide 20% of global demand. Subsequently, however, the triumph was replaced by a strong disappointment due to the fact that precious REEs in the bowels of Greenland are in conjunction with radioactive uranium, which makes their mining dangerous for the entire ecosystem of the island, and the raw materials themselves - unsuitable.
Further information fighters moved to Canada. The budget-2014 of this state has funding for research work in the field of geological exploration to confirm the reserves of REE and the construction of the first mine for their production. Already they say that “the country of maple syrup and beavers” by 2018 year expects to control 20% of the global market for REE.
After the annexation of the Crimea to Russia, which China did not particularly object to, the “completely unbiased” Federal Institute of Geological Sciences and Natural Resources of the Federal Republic of Germany made an “expert conclusion” that China’s share in the REE market decreased from 97,6% (2010) to three years 92,1% (December 2013).
The analyst recalls that the West, carrying out a “rare earth crusade” against the Middle Kingdom, acted through the system of WTO organs. In the framework of recent trials between China, the United States, the EU and Japan regarding restrictions on the extraction of REE, which introduced Beijing, the WTO court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. However, the introduction of restrictions by Beijing was caused, among other things, by the illegal mining of REE in the territory of the Middle Kingdom with subsequent illegal export, and the metals are strategic.
Another blow to China was struck in May 2014. The US National Academy of Sciences, the EU, and the Geological Survey of Mexico jointly announced that by 2016, China’s share in the REE market will be reduced to 80%. The Ministry of Economy of Mexico is going to finance geological exploration on the shelf.
In response, Beijing is considering increasing its own production.
But this, we add, is similar to another bluff. After all, recently the Celestial Empire officially announced the restriction of quotas for the extraction of rare-earth metals. "Vesti.Ekonomika"Referring to Reuters, they reported that the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources of China made an official statement in which it resulted in the size of quotas for the extraction of rare-earth metals. In 2013, the quotas were exactly the same as two years ago, 93,8 thousand tons.
At the same time, Beijing denies accusations of monopolism, stating that the restriction of production of rare-earth metals is associated with the government's desire to reduce production damage to the environment.
If we try to look objectively at the question of monopoly and the export of rare-earth metals by China, it will become clear that the Celestial Empire today is giving way. No, not to those players that bluff, but real players. Buyers. First of all Japan.
Ecology and illegal mining is one thing. But the fact is that China itself got involved in the "metal war" - because of the Japanese islands Senkaku.
The principle of refusal of export duties on rare earth metals was established in the WTO back in 2001, when China joined the organization. The refusal was promoted by Japan - a high-tech country in dire need of supplying rare-earth metals. Just from China.
In September, 2010, an incident occurred with Chinese fishing vessels in the Senkaku water area, after which the PRC introduced restrictive measures for the export of rare earth metals to Japan.
This economic and political reception in the near future adversely affected the Chinese trade in rare-earth metals. A blessing in disguise - the Japanese certainly have an analogue of this Russian proverb.
Как пишет Masumi Kawasaki, until after the 2010 incident in the WTO, the issue of REM and Chinese policy was discussed, Japan took over and diversified suppliers. But this is not the main thing. The Japanese were able to quickly develop technologies for the recycling of rare earth metals, which greatly reduced dependence on China.
“Exports collapsed. I give up, ”says a Taiwanese manager of a trading company dealing with Chinese rare earth metals.
The shortage of quotas, said the journalist, is the third year, and the average price per ton of raw materials fell by 60% compared with the previous year. It is believed that the Chinese industry of rare-earth metals is on the brink of ruin.
As for Moscow, it is friendly with Beijing. At the same time, Russia is starting to think about its own mining of rare-earth metals.
According to Alexei Mikhailov ("Russian newspaper"), a plant for the production of rare-earth metals, titanium dioxide and thorium concentrate will be built in the Murmansk region, the raw materials for which will be the perovskite ores from the Afrikanda deposit. Russian industry will get a chance to get rid of the need to buy rare-earth metals abroad.
The pre-project part of the work, as reported by Andrei Trenin, the chairman of the board of directors of the Arkmineral company (project operator), has already been completed. Designing is supposed to begin at the end of the summer.
“We will produce rare metals, including niobium and tantalum, and a whole palette of rare earth metals,” said Comrade Trenin. - It is planned to produce 50 thousand tons of titanium dioxide per year and 7 thousand tons of rare and rare earth metals. The cost of the project is about 8 billion rubles. Now we are negotiating with trading companies and end users ... "
According to scientists, the Kola Peninsula could become the main base for the production of rare-metal materials of strategic purpose. The Murmansk region is able to provide them fully with Russia and other countries.
There is one more June news on the subject of rare earths.
As transmits RIA News", ARMZ uranium holding, which is part of Rosatom, plans to sign cooperation agreements on Russian mining of rare-earth metals with Russian companies.
“The meaning of these agreements is to mine uranium, to start working out industrial technologies for the recovery of rare-earth metals, to work out domestic technologies for obtaining the final product,” the agency’s unnamed spokesman noted.
Works under the agreements will be carried out with the support of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of Environment.
RIA “Novosti” reminds that in the autumn of last year, the Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov at a meeting with Vladimir Putin said that Russia expects to completely abandon the import of rare-earth metals by 2020. The program for the development of rare-earth metals will be invested 145 billion rubles, including 23,5 billion from the budget. Rosatom and Rostec are expected to participate in the implementation of the program.
So friendship is friendship, and
Observed and commented on Oleg Chuvakin
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