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China to begin hoarding precious metals used in hybrids

Published August 25, 2009

In 2018 China Car Times was acquired by Autowise. This article originally appeared on ChinaCarTimes.com.

From The Telegraph:

A draft report by Chinaâs Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has called for a total ban on foreign shipments of terbium, dysprosium, yttrium, thulium, and lutetium. Other metals such as neodymium, europium, cerium, and lanthanum will be restricted to a combined export quota of 35,000 tonnes a year, far below global needs.

and

Mr Stephens said Arafuraâs project in Western Australia produces terbium, which sells for $800,000 a tonne. It is a key ingredient in low-energy light-bulbs. China needs all the terbium it produces as the country switches wholesale from tungsten bulbs to the latest low-wattage bulbs that cut power costs by 40pc.

No replacement has been found for neodymium that enhances the power of magnets at high heat and is crucial for hard-disk drives, wind turbines, and the electric motors of hybrid cars. Each Toyota Prius uses 25 pounds of rare earth elements. Cerium and lanthanum are used in catalytic converters for diesel engines. Europium is used in lasers.

Ouch. Looks like China is getting set to shore up its own green revolution by shutting everyone else out.

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