10-year

10-Year Anniversary Promotion (20% off)

Join GuruFocus Premium Membership Now for Only $279/Year

Once a decade discount

Save up to $500 on Global Membership.

Don't Miss It !

Free 7-day Trial
All Articles and Columns »

China’s Rare Earth Metals Monopoly Could Surpass America

July 27, 2011
taipan

taipan

0 followers
I can describe America's impending decline as a world power in one word -- Alvin.

No, not the squeaky chipmunk.

This is no laughing matter. America's mounting deficits and lack of political leadership have allowed a once-great nation to fall steadily behind China -- the country that holds more than $1 trillion of our debt.

And nowhere is this shifting balance of power more apparent than in the global geopolitical showdown over rare earth metals.

You may recall that China controls roughly 97% of all rare earths produced in the world. These metals remain critical for the high-powered magnets essential to U.S. military superiority. Think missile guidance systems.

Rare earths also serve as the backbone for a wide range of civilian technology. We're talking fiber optics, wind turbines and smartphones. The world is on the verge of what I see as a rare-earth buying panic.

No wonder that at American Wealth Underground,our rare-earth holdings are doing so well. We recently took combined gains of 250% on several positions.

That kind of action is why we recently entered a stake in Europe's largest rare-earth deposit. We also have a position in the leading publicly traded rare-earth processor. Half its sales come from China.

Meantime, my analysis of the rare earths markets shows that within the next three years China will need all the rare earths it produces.

China has until now used its rare-earth monopoly to good effect. The government has pressured U.S. and other firms to locate factories in China to gain rare-earth access.

More than jobs are at stake as American firms head overseas.

The Chinese have a well-documented history of stealing intellectual property from anybody they can.

Now comes the Alvin. It illustrates how America is losing its technological superiority to China with grave consequences for our future.

Don't worry if you don't immediately recall the Alvin.

It's a craft U.S. scientists used to make a critical undersea discovery in 1979. At that time, the Alvin ruled the deep seas -- a submersible that could dive deeper than any other craft.

Our team found vents spewing superheated fluids from the ocean floor off the coast of Mexico. These were no ordinary updrafts. They contained a mixture of important metals: gold, silver, lead, copper and zinc.

Since that time, our nation's ability to explore the deep oceans for metals has steadily declined. You'll never guess who is the new deep-sea diving champion...

China, with Japan right on its tail.

Just last week, the Chinese were set to launch a craft known as the Jialong. It can dive to a depth of 16,400 feet -- more than three miles.

That puts huge swaths of valuable minerals within the craft's range.

Here's where the interplay between China and Japan gets tricky. The Pentagon buys critical components containing rare earths from Japan. In turn that country gets its rare earths directly from China.

Just a few weeks ago, the Japanese made a critical rare-earth find. They discovered a massive deposit at depths of two to 3 3/4 miles below the ocean's surface.

This was reported in the British journal Nature Geoscience. The publication didn't delve into global politics.

So allow me.

The Japanese found the deep-sea rare earths near Hawaii, which helps explain why China wants to curtail the U.S. Navy's Pacific operations.

China has strong international backing for the Jialong's mission. It can explore the space between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland. All thanks to the International Seabed Authority, a unit of our "friends" at the United Nations.

These developments underscore key themes in what we call the Era of Gold 3.0, the term used to describe how planet Earth has passed the natural resources tipping point.

All the easy, affordable natural resources have been discovered. From here on out it's tough slogging in remote and expensive regions of the world.

Global population growth and surging technology demand will continue to put pressure on natural resources across the board. Rare earths remain at the top of the list.

Ironically, Alaska's Arctic region holds vast deposits of oil, gas, precious metals and rare earths. Other nations are investing in the Arctic.

But U.S. leaders are sitting on their hands... as usual.

From here it gets even worse. China will in all likelihood win the rare-earth ocean race. The implications are more profound than I have enumerated so far.

Here's why.

We have abandoned our Moon program and space exploration. But China's deep-sea program has enormous space implications.

You see, underwater mining will rely heavily on robotics. So will mining in outer space.

Don't laugh.

Apollo astronauts brought back lunar soil samples that proved the Moon is chock-full of rare earths.

Scientists also believe thousands of asteroids cheaper to land on than the Moon may also contain rare-earth deposits. Here in the U.S. we lack the political will to connect the dots between the ocean floor and outer space.

But you can bet the Chinese are eager to do it.

Robotic craft operating on the ocean floor face formidable challenges. The same type of hurdles they would face on what are called Near Earth Asteroids.

And to think, the U.S. once held a clear lead in the Space Race.

Now, the Apollo moon program has much in common with the Alvin. They are symbols of China's rising power and the death of American superiority.

Written by Michael Robinson for Taipan Publishing Group. Additional valuable content can be syndicated via ourNews RSS feed. Republish without charge. Required: Author attribution, links back to original content or www.taipanpublishinggroup.com.


Rating: 1.8/5 (6 votes)

Comments

Please leave your comment:


Get WordPress Plugins for easy affiliate links on Stock Tickers and Guru Names | Earn affiliate commissions by embedding GuruFocus Charts
GuruFocus Affiliate Program: Earn up to $400 per referral. ( Learn More)
Free 7-day Trial
FEEDBACK