Daily Telegraph. A draft report by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology Beijing is proposing a ban on exports of the rare earth metals terbium, dysprosium, yttrium, thulium, and lutetium. Other rare earth metals such as neodymium, europium, cerium, and lanthanum would be restricted to a combined export quota of 35,000 tonnes a year.
China currently mines more than 95% of the world’s rare earth metals. Prohibiting or restricting these rare earth metals would impact a number of technology areas, including electric motors, catalytic converters, superconductors and precision-guided weapons.
Alistair Stephens, from Australia’s rare metals group Arafura, said his contacts in China had been shown a copy of the draft—`Rare Earths Industry Development Plan 2009-2015’. Any decision will be made by China’s State Council. “This isn’t about China holding the world to ransom. They are saying we need these resources to develop our own economy and achieve energy efficiency, so go find your own supplies”, he said.
...Each Toyota Prius uses 25 pounds of rare earth elements. Cerium and lanthanum are used in catalytic converters for diesel engines. Europium is used in lasers.
The Japanese government has also drawn up a “Strategy for Ensuring Stable Supplies of Rare Metals”, calling for stockpiling and plans to secure overseas resources.