Rare Mineral Dispute with China
On March 13 of this year, the United States, Japan, and the EU opened up a lawsuit against China who controls a whopping 95% of some of the rarest minerals in the world. Natural resources battles are fought not only over oil and water, but over minerals around the world that are used to produce a lot of technology- computers, TVs, cell phones, car parts and batteries, and much more. Many of these rare minerals that are being fought over are minerals that are located in small amounts that do everything from hydraulic breaking in cars, making the vivid colors we see on our televisions, powering fluorescent lighting, and most importantly as alternate forms on energy.
The new trade action seeks to force China to loosen export restrictions that other nations argue has kept the price of rare-earth metals artificially high outside the People’s Republic. The U.S. Department of Energy says that deployment of clean energy technology could be slowed in the coming years by supply challenges for at least five rare-earth metals. Scientists all around the world are searching more frantically every day for new breakthrough technologies for their countries with these alternative mineral energies, and are optimistic about getting China to “share” outside of the monopoly that they have on these alternate energy minerals.
The WTO action this month amounts to an opening act in a process that could take months or years. The United States, Europe, and Japan argue that China imposes several unfair export restraints on the critical materials, including quotas, duties, and high pricing requirements. Officially, the nations have requested “consultations” with China;however, if those negotiations fail to achieve a resolution in 60 days, the countries that launched the complaints may request establishment of a WTO dispute settlement panel to begin getting more serious about the rights to these minerals. This will definitely be an interesting process to follow in the next few months, considering how “green Earth” crazy many people in the United States and around the world have become. The outcome of this action against China will definitely have a large impact on the next few years’ alternative energy plans.