China Controls 4 Critical Element Groups Most at Risk of Shortages
Friday, September 16, 2011
When it comes to essential materials needed for so much of modern living, China wields considerable leverage over the consumerist appetite of the Western world.
Many of the critical elements required for manufacturing that are now deemed at-risk are controlled by the Chinese, according to the British Geological Survey (BGS).
At the top of the BGS’ Risk List 2011 are four chemical elements or element groups that may become less available in the future, either because of supply reasons or political factors involving the country in control of them: China.
No. 1 on the list is antimony, which is used mostly as a flame retardant on everything from toys to furniture to automobile seat covers. Other Chinese-controlled materials include mercury, which has many industrial uses; tungsten, used in the manufacture of steel and cutting devices; and the 17 rare earth minerals, without which it would be difficult to produce cell phones, hybrid cars, hard drives, air bags, anti-lock brakes and guided missiles.
The high-risk platinum group of elements, essential for the manufacture of catalytic convertors, among other devices, is controlled by South Africa and Russia.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
Summary: Risk List 2011 (British Geological Survey)
Risk List 2011 (British Geological Survey) (pdf)
U.S. Weapons Systems Dependent on Rare Earth Elements from China (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
China Cuts Rare Earth Minerals Exports; Mine in California Reopens after 8 Years (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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