Chinese Put the Squeeze on Rare Earth Metals

Which will make compact florescent bulbs so expensive that no one will be able to afford them. From Yahoo! Finance:

BEIJING — In the name of fighting pollution, China has sent the price of compact fluorescent light bulbs soaring in the United States.

By closing or nationalizing dozens of the producers of rare earth metals — which are used in energy-efficient bulbs and many other green-energy products — China is temporarily shutting down most of the industry and crimping the global supply of the vital resources.

China produces nearly 95 percent of the world’s rare earth materials, and it is taking the steps to improve pollution controls in a notoriously toxic mining and processing industry. But the moves also have potential international trade implications and have started yet another round of price increases for rare earths, which are vital for green-energy products including giant wind turbines, hybrid gasoline-electric cars and compact fluorescent bulbs.

General Electric, facing complaints in the United States about rising prices for its compact fluorescent bulbs, recently noted in a statement that if the rate of inflation over the last 12 months on the rare earth element europium oxide had been applied to a $2 cup of coffee, that coffee would now cost $24.55.

An 11-watt G.E. compact fluorescent bulb — the lighting equivalent of a 40-watt incandescent bulb — was priced on Thursday at $15.88 on Wal-Mart’s Web site for pickup in a Nashville, Ark., store.

That’s a lot of moolah. Of course rare earth metals are used in everything from laptops to solar panels to wind turbines so the “green” economy – based largely on the pretensions high tech, wired population – is about to have the rug pulled out from under it.

But that’s what China wants. This is basicly a trade war move designed to hurt our economy as a precursor for China forcibly push the West off the world state:

In July, the European Union said in a statement on rare earth policy that the organization supported efforts to protect the environment, but that discrimination against foreign buyers of rare earths was not allowed under World Trade Organization rules.

China has been imposing tariffs and quotas on its rare earth exports for the last several years, curtailing global supplies and forcing prices to rise eightfold to fortyfold during that period for the various 17 rare earth elements.

Even before this latest move by China, the United States and the European Union were preparing to file a case at the W.T.O. this winter that would challenge Chinese export taxes and export quotas on rare earths.

I’d start thinking about alternative lighting if I were you. My wife and I chose our house specifically because even during a blackout there’s plenty of natural light so we can function. Those of you living in bunkers may need more candles.

 

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