Praseodymium running out?
Guess we’ll just have to adapt.

Chinese create shortages of metals for electronics

So far the cost of energy isn’t really squeezing our household budget. But if we don’t keep our technology needs low, the cost of rare earth metals could make an impact soon.

Rare earth metals?

You know, scandium, yttrium, the lanthanides – that stuff.

China announced on Tuesday a steep reduction in export quotas for rare earth metals, a move that threatens to cause difficulties for manufacturers already struggling with short supplies and soaring prices.

“China mines more than 95 percent of the global supply of the metals, which are essential for smartphones, electric cars, many computer components and a range of military hardware [and] 99 percent of the heavy rare earths that are crucial to many clean energy applications and electronics.”

It seems China wants to grab a larger share of those important technology markets. Other countries like the US can stay in the game, but

“Chinese officials said that their rare earth policies were aimed at forcing foreign industries to move high-tech factories to China so as to have access to Chinese rare earths.”

Seems America is losing on four fronts – commodity prices, military technology, new industries, and jobs. All in one announcement.

Maybe this is the beginning of Peak Everything – meaning the world is running out of lots more than just oil. Laurence C. Smith, in The World in 2050, tells us

“Studies indicate serious depletion of in-ground reserves of key metals, notably silver, gold, indium, tin, lead, zinc, and possibly copper, by the year 2050. Pressure is also rising on some exotic metals needed for the elecronics and energy industries, notably gallium and germanium for electronics; tellurium for solar power; thorium for next-generation nuclear reactors; molybdenum and cobalt for catalysts; and niobium, tantalum, and tungsten for making hardened synthetic materials.”

Smartphone? Electric car? It’s good to have yet another reason to keep our family’s needs simple.