Ever hear of neodymium? How about dysprosium or yttrium? Thulium or lutetium? These are just some of the metals that China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is considering either banning the exportation of, or at least severely limiting the amount that it will let leave the country. These precious metals are used in manufacturing new (and sometimes green) technologies, and China wants keep the goods available for its growing domestic use.
Neodymium, in particular, is required for making the electric motor in hybrid cars, and every Toyota Prius you've ever seen contains 25 pounds of rare earth elements. iPods, Blackberries and countless other items also require these rare earth minerals.
Right now, China mines more than 95% of the rare earth minerals that are taken out of the ground. Let us repeat that: Ninety-five percent. While some might see the export limits as an act of aggression by China, an Australian rare metals expert told the UK's Telegraph, "This isn't about China holding the world to ransom. They are saying we need these resources to develop our own economy and achieve energy efficiency, so go find your own supplies." Does this mean BYD will one day have a big, big advantage?
[Source: Telegraph via China Car Times | Image: Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty]