#Forbes: #China’s “Nuclear Option” – Should Investors Get Excited About Rare Earth Metals?


Terbium is used to make flat-panel displays. Thulium can be found in your microwave. Dysprosium demand is growing with increased production of wind turbines and electric vehicles.

The 17 so-called “rare earth metals,” of which the three mentioned above are members, may not have household names like gold or copper, but they play strong supporting roles in many of the consumer electronics we enjoy on a daily basis, from our TVs to smartphones.

They also have important high-tech military, energy, health care and transportation applications. According to the Rare Earth Technology Alliance (RETA), each Lockheed Martin F-35 requires some 920 pounds of the metals. Some nuclear-powered submarines use up to 9,200 pounds.

All of this could be something of a concern in the near term. China, which accounts for close to 80 percent of the world’s annual production of rare earth metals, is allegedly preparing to curb the export of these important materials to the U.S. as a bargaining chip in the ongoing trade war between the two superpowers, and as retaliation for the recent U.S. ban on imports from Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei. In a tweet dated May 28, Hu Xijin, editor of the Chinese state-controlled Global Times newspaper, said that he believes the country “is seriously considering restricting rare earth exports to the U.S.” Some market commentators are already calling this China’s “nuclear” option.


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  • Mining and Refining Magnesium in the United States

    Mg Magnesium Inc (MgMI), a US based corporation engaged in the mining and production of magnesium products, announced today that its has reached an agreement with CVMR (USA) Inc. (CVMR®) to mine, beneficiate (concentrate) and refine one of the largest North American magnesium mines owned by MgMI. According to this agreement the beneficiation and refining plants will be built by CVMR®, using its proprietary processes and refining technology. The refinery is scheduled to be built in Tennessee. The capital cost for phase one of the project is estimated to be about $60 mil. The plant will be constructed in a modular structure that can be expanded to produce a variety of magnesium- based products for the US market.
    MgMI’s Serpentinite magnesium deposits bear substantial quantities of Rare Earth Elements and other valuable minerals as well. A series of field and metallurgical works were carried out during 2018 consisting of detailed geological surveys, systematic sampling of the mineral body, preparation and supervision of an extensive diamond drilling program, analysis and interpretation of results. The mine is certified to contain over 22 million tons of “proven reserves” of magnesium oxide with an average grade of 36.5%. It has sufficient reserves of magnesium to curtail substantial imports of magnesium into the United States from China.
    The US economy is growing faster than anyone had expected. Consequently, self- sufficiency in raw materials has become of great importance. Magnesium is a crucial element used in various industrial products, medicine and food supplements. MgMI is taking advantage of this vast, highly diversified and ever-expanding market in the United States by initiating the mining and refining of its magnesium resources in partnership with CVMR®.
    China is the world’s largest magnesium producer. The producers in China have massive primary magnesium production capacity and most Chinese government export statistics indicate that they are increasing their production capacity. The industry producing magnesium in China is heavily export oriented, with more than half of its 2018 production exported to the United States, sometimes below production cost. Given the existing antidumping duty controls in place against alloys of magnesium, China would have a strong incentive to shift production to finished goods, if the orders were revoked and end users of refined magnesium in US looked for alternative sources. Magnesium from China is also currently subject to antidumping duties in Brazil and Europe.

    CVMR® is a mining and refining company that refines some 36 different metals. It is a world leader in metal powder production used in 3D printing, Metal Injection Moulding (MIM), super alloys, complex net shapes, electronics, rechargeable batteries, manufacture of aerospace and automotive parts, medical instruments and pharmaceuticals. In producing these products, CVMR® uses its proprietary technologies and refining processes based on vapour metallurgy. CVMR®’s name and trademark, is an acronym derived from its principal refining process, “chemical vapour metal refining.” All CVMR® refining processes are environmentally neutral without an impact on the air, water or soil. CVMR® is a designated NATO supplier.
    There is an increasing demand for magnesium in the United States. Magnesium is an attractive material for the automotive, aerospace and defence industries, primarily because of its lightweight (36% lighter per unit volume than aluminum and 78% lighter than iron.) When alloyed, magnesium has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of all the structural metals.
    In the aerospace and automotive part manufacturing, magnesium alloys can withstand elevated-temperature applications. New magnesium alloys have been developed by CVMR® that use calcium and strontium or Rare Earth Elements with sufficient creep resistance at elevated temperatures. These alloys are used in components such as engine blocks and power trains.
    Magnesium is considered to be a good choice material in the areas of defense and aerospace engineering for aircraft and missile components; aircraft engine mounts, control hinges, fuel tanks, and wings, all use alloys of magnesium. In the automotive and motorcycle sectors, magnesium is used for wheels, housings, transmission cases, engine blocks, steering wheels and columns, seat frames and electronics. The use of magnesium and its alloys in automotive components was limited in the early sixties and seventies, but today fuel savings and environmental protection through reduced CO2 emissions have substantially increased its demand.
    The usage of magnesium and its alloys, on a worldwide scale, has increased considerably over the past ten years. In structural applications, where weight plays a major role, magnesium is by far a superior choice. Laptop computers, television sets, cell phones and many other electronic devices use magnesium as a primary metal.

    Magnesium is a critical nutrient necessary for our bodies to function well. Magnesium deficiency has far-reaching consequences, from Alzheimer’s and Asthma, to back pain, blood pressure, colon cancer, diabetes, cirrhosis of liver, toxic shock syndrome, urinary incontinence among many more illnesses, all can be traced often to a dietary deficiency in magnesium. Magnesium is such a vital part of our biology that, often times, simply adding it to our diet and supplementation routine will reverse a whole slew of health issues.
    Magnesium salts are included in various foods, fertilizers, manufacture of paper, fireproofing wood, mothproofing textiles, and electrical insulators. Magnesium compounds, primarily magnesium oxide, are used as a refractory material in furnace lining to produce iron, steel, nonferrous metals, glass and cement.
    The underlying demand for magnesium remains quite robust in the United States as the aluminum alloying sector ramps up amid a booming automotive market. MgMI is in an enviable position able to take advantage of this vast, highly diversified and ever-expanding market in the United States and beyond.



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