@ Bolaji, You are certainly correct about that, the ideologies have not changed, I don't think. The one thing more dangerous than a communist is a rich communist, because somehow being rich does not seem to point out the contradictions that are so intrinsic in the basic communist creed.
As for reclaiming the magnetic materials not being economical, it must be the cost of getting the hard drives reclaimed, rather than the removal of the magnets themselves. Ten years ago I offered a suggestion that the way to ensure recovery of materials from electronics was to add a deposit to it, a lot like the deposit on pop bottles and cans, so that they would be recycled instead of trashed. If it were $100 or so, it would be fairly certain that most of the discarded computers, phones, and personal music devices would find their way into recycling centers instead of landfills. Of course a whole lot of people would scream very loud at the concept of making disposal "so complicated", but it would also keep a who;e lot of stuff out of landfills. In fact, if there were such a deposit required on moist electronics we could probably eliminate that STUPID ROHS rule and get back some reliability in many devices. Of course, there would need to be some extensive means and methods to prevent a whole lot of fraud, which could be an unpleasant problem. BUT it would be one potential solution.
WilliamK: I suspect that reclaiming the REEs from scrap is not economically viable. There have been several efforts by both government and NGOs to find ways for the US to free itself of dependence on foreign sources of...was it oil? Oh, right, REEs. I get them confused because neither effort made any headway.
Anyway, I've included a couple of links here about those efforts:
William K., Just because they are now making more money doesn't mean the Chinese have forgotten their political believes. They want a piece of global commerce but this wolf in sheep skin still has its fangs. Plus, we walked right into the trap and want them to let us off. Not going to happen unless we make an offer they can't refuse.
Barry, Thank you for the suggestion. I'll certainly follow up as you suggested with the political side of REE. And you are right, China makes no apologies about mixing up business and politics. We knew that going in but didn't factor it in and now we want the WTO to mediate? It's unlikely to resolve the challenge.
For starters, don't blame ME for other people's poor choices, OK!!! Another thing that led to the mines over here closing was probably the safety people heaping all kinds of demands on the mine operators. At some point costs will exceed income and the operation has to stop. Remember that this is not a perfect world.
Another problem is that there has been no real effort to reclaim all of the rare earths from the scrapped electronics, in fact, it seems like the goal has been to get the products into a landfill as fast as they can, so that they can sell new ones. If we were able to recover all of that magnetic material we could also save a lot of the cost of refining the materials, as well.
And of course there is still China, which, by the way, is still a communist run police state, even though ome businessmen are making lots of money. And while the people want to be a bit more like us, and the government is quite polite, and much more subtle, it seems that they have not changed that much. Remember that a lot of these government officials were part of the problems associated with the VietNam war. That battle may be over, but the war may not be ended, only revised.
Thank you for the article. I have not read much about REEs except to know of the U.S potential vulnerability, but your article has motivated me to know more about them.
The one comment I would make at this time is to suggest that China doesn't separate economic policy from political policy. An example of this is their decision to threaten not to buy any Airbus planes from Europe, as a protest of the EU policy of charging all airlines for carbon emission credits.
I would think their action re: REEs has a political side to it, and might even justify another article suggesting links. :)
Certainly China is a villian too. Anyone who captures natural resources and makes contribution in creating artificial demand-supply gap for business motives and causes a common man to suffer is a villian.
As far as the WTO agreement and UN is concerned, the individual country politics by giants has become so powerful that no agreement and a single organization can dictate terms to the parties. Unfortunately US has a lot of dependance on China so they cant just openly start a fight against China's anti-competition activities.
@Waqas: I wish I were as confident as you are there is a strategy behind this! The reality is, drilling/not drilling in the US is purely political. You would think it is supply/demand related, but it's not. Depending on what party is in power, drilling is good, then there's an oil spill, drilling is bad, gas prices go up and we are back to square 1. But clearly, China's move on REEs is also political, whether they admit it or not, so they are no worse a "villan" than the US.
I read an article where they were blaming US for deliberately keeping its oil well unused. May be they are waiting for the time when oil wells in the Middle-east and other oil-extracting regions, get dried up. If that is the strategy, then it is smart thinking and not short-sightedness. US govt has always been a good strategist and to expect them to tolerate higher prices from other supplying nations is very unlike of it. If the extracting cost is being too high is the problem, this problem can be resolved as costs come down through experience learning curve if continuous extraction is made.
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.