Rare earth metals in Afghanistan were estimated to be worth anywhere between $1 trillion and $3 trillion in 2020.
Under President Donald Trump, after China threatened to cut our supply of rare earth elements essential for certain products, American entrepreneurs partnered with Australian rare earth mining company Lynas to build a processing facility in the U.S.
Rare earth elements are a group of seventeen chemical elements that occur together in the periodic table and have a wide variety of uses in the industry (e.g., smartphones, guidance systems, hard drives, MRI machines, optics, and hybrid vehicles).
Do you know what country has quite a bit available for mining? Afghanistan.
Thanks to Team Biden, China may be in a position to exploit the country’s resources.
Minerals and rare earth metals in Afghanistan were estimated to be worth between $1 trillion and $3 trillion in 2020, according to a report in news magazine The Diplomat, citing Ahmad Shah Katawazai, a former diplomat at the Afghan Embassy in Washington D.C. A report by American news organization The Hill earlier this year put the value at about $3 trillion.
…Afghanistan has rare earth elements such as lanthanum, cerium, neodymium, and veins of aluminium, gold, silver, zinc, mercury, and lithium, according to Katawazai. Rare earths are used in everything from electronics to electric vehicles, and satellites and aircraft.
“So there should be pressure on China if they are going to do alliances with the Taliban in order to generate economic aid for them — that they do it on international terms,” said Khan. She was responding to a question on the commercial motivation behind China’s nod to the Taliban a day after the militants took over the country — given the trillions of dollars worth of rare earths there.
Only hours after the Taliban overran Afghanistan, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said Beijing was ready for “friendly cooperation with Afghanistan.”
China has already said it would “contribute to post-war reconstruction and development, pushing forward projects under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.” The CCP will target the resource assets, and given how it treats Chinese Muslims, I do not think Sharia Law or religious considerations will stand in its way.
Some firms have already seen the writing on the wall. Some electric car manufacturers are trying to reduce the amount of rare earth used in vehicles.
Western electric vehicle (EV) makers are trying to reduce their dependence on rare earth metals from China. As tensions rise between that nation and others, including the United States, makers worry that supplies might become limited.
Electric vehicles use special magnets to power their engines.
Most are made from rare earth metals.
The metals are not really rare. But they can be dirty and difficult to process. And, China has become the leader in producing them. Demand for the magnets is growing for all forms of renewable energy. Experts say a real shortage may lie ahead.
Some automobile companies have been looking to replace rare earth metals for years.
Automakers in the West say they are concerned not just about securing supply. They are also worried about huge price increases and environmental damage that happens during production.
…Companies trying to stop using the magnets include Japanese carmaker Nissan. The company told Reuters it is ending its use of rare earths from the engine of its new Ariya model. Germany’s BMW did the same for its iX3 electric sport utility vehicle this year. And the world’s two biggest automakers — Toyota and Volkswagen — told Reuters they are also decreasing use of the minerals.
Meanwhile, India (which has less than friendly relations with China) takes a different approach to its rare earth supply.
India has come up with a novel way of getting its hands on some rare earths – by junking cars.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi last Friday announced a Vehicle Scrappage Policy that aims to get junkers off Indian roads, with reducing pollution the main aim of the new effort.
… Rare earths are essential in the manufacture of electronics, but China dominates supply. Miners everywhere are working to find new sources as fast as they are able, but demand remains high.
Enter India’s fleet of junkers which, as Modi noted in his speech introducing the new Scrappage Policy, contain rare earths that can be recycled.
“When these rare earth metals that drive technology and that are available today will become rare, it is difficult to say,” Modi lamented. The new policy, he added, will bring scientific rigour to India’s metal recycling efforts.
India certainly seems wise in taking an independent approach to the potential resource shortage.
It seems that the Biden Administration is a better ally to China than those nations and groups to whom America is supposed to be allied. Not only car manufacturers but national leaders are recalculating strategies and approaches.DONATE
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