Rare earths : a Chinese shadow on the « green economy »

20 September 2012

The “green technologies”, many technological objects of everyday life, but also the development of sophisticated weapons systems depend on 17 metals such as neodymium and dysprosium, called “rare earths”, wich the European Union - as well the United States or Japan – do not control the production and supply. China holds between 20 and 30% of known world reserves of these metals, but being practically alone to exploit the extraction (with disastrous environmental conditions), it provides 97% of world production. Export quotas imposed by China burden the development of a “green economy” but also military capabilities. Whatever the outcome of the dispute before the WTO, a long-term thinking is needed.