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Germany changes rare minerals strategy over China spat

The Local · 22 Oct 2010, 10:27

Published: 22 Oct 2010 10:27 GMT+02:00

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Economy Minister Rainer Brüderle this week said that securing a reliable supply of these minerals, used to produce goods from iPods to hybrid cars, was of "pivotal importance" for Germany as an industrial power.

While individual companies are responsible for sourcing their own minerals, the government would back them up with foreign policy measures, Berlin vowed.

"Part of the raw materials strategy is building up partnerships with selected countries," the German government said in a statement, without saying which nations were involved.

Japan has accused China, which has cornered 95 percent of the rare earths market, of restricting shipments amid a bitter spat between Asia's top two economies sparked by a maritime incident in disputed waters six weeks ago.

Beijing has cut rare earth exports by five to 10 percent a year since 2006 as demand and prices soar, but strongly denies making any fresh cuts.

Earlier Wednesday, Chinese authorities lashed out at a report in the official China Daily, which cited a commerce ministry bureaucrat as saying Beijing would cut quotas by up to 30 percent next year.

"China will continue to supply the world with rare earths," Beijing insisted.

The New York Times has reported that the United States and Japan are considering filing a case against China at the World Trade Organisation.

On a visit to Asia this month, Brüderle pledged to help Japan gain access to rare earths and said Berlin and Toyko would examine joint efforts to explore new sources for the minerals.

Story continues below…

And Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a speech last week that Europe must formulate a policy to ensure a steady supply of minerals.

"In Central Asia, there is a broad spectrum of interesting deposits, including of rare earths which we need for things like electrical batteries," said the chancellor.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:54 October 22, 2010 by tallady
The demand by China for vital minerals is expanding rapidly,any hope of an increase of available minerals by them is not going to happen,only the opposite.It is wise that other industrial nations like Germany and Japan find alternative sources a fast as possible.

China offers it's customers and potential customers ,especially in Africa and other 3rd world nations rich in needed products for their growth,money and lots of it for new infrastructure with out all the environmental and human rights concerns that the EU and others want to impose on them. No Strings...
13:13 October 22, 2010 by freechoice
stop killing the chinese people with your ever increasing demands for ipods and iphones....you want them to die of mine explosion because you want to listen to music or make phone calls or drive an overly expensive car?
15:46 October 22, 2010 by Kayak
It's 2010 and it looks like Germany has "missed the boat" (or should that be "bulk-carrier").

Perhaps, Germany should have been a bit more active being a united Land about two hundred years ago when the Brits sowed-up most of the New World.

Germany either didn't or couldn't think of the future back then or they thought wrongly that the new world couldn't develop. Ha!!

Germany...start digging.
23:16 October 22, 2010 by Icarusty
What's this, Germany and Japan agreeing on something, that China is becoming a hindrance to them? I think we've been here before.
13:51 October 24, 2010 by voidplay
China is playing its cards well and it is pay back time for the developed world.

Not many years ago in 2000, Australia refused to sell coal to India. India has always been a net exporter of top quality Iron ore and importer of Steel simply because she does not have good quality coal.

Technology, mineral and trade restrictions have played a major role in keeping the world divided into the industrialized and the backward parts.

And to think of the irony of the commodities market, USA imports 50% of its crude from Venezuela (a communist country). Whereas countries close to the middle east can not trade directly with Iran or Iraq due to 'flimsy' sanctions.
13:53 October 24, 2010 by The Kraut
But why did Köhler have to resign then since he only predicted that this kind of thing was bound to happen one day? He only said that Germany would have to defend its supply lines and people made such a row about it that he couldn't stand it any more.

Now his colleagues suddenly come to the conclusion that Germany must defend its supply lines.

Send Imam Wulff home and re-install Köhler!

Old Kraut
14:43 October 25, 2010 by storymann
voidplay...not so...who needs Chavez

Approximately 40% of America's oil comes from domestic oil fields in states like Texas, Alaska, and California. The rest comes from:

The top five exporting countries accounted for 65 percent of United States crude oil imports in July while the top ten sources accounted for approximately 84 percent of all U.S. crude oil imports. The top five sources of US crude oil imports for July were Canada (2.055 million barrels per day), Mexico (1.174 million barrels per day), Nigeria (1.143 million barrels per day), Saudi Arabia (1.033 million barrels per day), and Venezuela (1.016 million barrels per day).
09:08 October 26, 2010 by voidplay
@storymann yes you are right .... my figure is quite dated.

Anyway the reasoning is that countries have always acted according to their self interests. And that global trade has alway been unfair. Like in the case of USA, going to war with one or openly trading with another (commie). Even here 1.016 mil barrels is not an insignificant proportion.
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