Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The budget for the Pentagon's SouthCom command has increased dramatically over the last few years... and we're "Muscling Latin America"
Here's ONE reason why:
Most of the lithium is mined in Chile, Argentina and China and sold by only a handful of companies. Bolivia, led by the Anti-American President Evo Morales, recently discovered that one of its decommissioned salt mines harbored giant reserves of lithium....The world's next resource conflict (UPI)
...The United States used to produce its own lithium and REEs, but most of the domestic mines have closed because mines in Latin America and China are able to operate much cheaper." (and Lithium is one of the most toxic elements on the face of the planet along with Cadmium, another rare material used in high tech batteries. You wouldn't want either mining operation in YOUR back yard. Even if you COULD live near these operations)
BERLIN, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- The next resource conflict could be about minerals and rare earth elements needed to fuel the green economy, as China, which supplies most of the minerals, is considering limiting exports.
There is great hope for a green boom to transform the CO2-heavy world economy into one that is less dependent on fossil fuels and more sustainable. Experts envision solar panels and wind turbines to produce clean power and heat and electric cars to cruise tomorrow's roads.
The problem with these technologies is that they rely on minerals and rare earth elements, or REEs, which are produced by politically unpredictable countries...
...When it comes to REEs (Rare Earth Elements, needed for hybrid cars, wind turbines, solar panels and defense industry products), China is the new kid on the block. In charge of more than half the global reservoirs, China supplies around 95 percent of the world's REEs.
This worries experts: A single mine in Mongolia accounts for 80 percent of China's production, so an earthquake or a flood in that region could severely disrupt global supplies.
And don't forget a political earthquake. Recently, Beijing indicated it plans to reduce exports of its minerals in a bid to save supplies for domestic use.
China has a quickly growing green technology industry and its solar panels and wind turbines are already competing with products from Europe and the United States, so they increasingly need the REEs themselves.
The situation is similarly dire for lithium, which forms the basis of the batteries intended to power the electric car boom. According to the Hyundai Research Institute, 80 percent of the world's lithium reserves are buried under just three countries...
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