Posts tagged “rare earth”
Western policymakers are becoming increasingly anxious about China’s foothold into Greenland, particularly its desire to produce the semi-autonomous island’s rare earth metals – the materials used in high-end electronics, from smart phones and smart bombs to clean energy technologies, including wind turbines and advanced batteries. But policymakers can rest assured that there is more to China’s foray into Greenland than meets the eye – and not as much cause for concern.
A Thawing Frontier
Greenland’s icy frontier is transforming before our eyes. Climate change is contributing to a hastened retreat of the island’s massive ice sheet and ushering in new opportunities for the 57,000 people living in the northern hinterlands.
The island’s extractive industries are poised to be the biggest winner, as the thawed ice reveals new deposits of raw materials, everything from iron ore to aluminum.
(Read More: Rocking the Boat in the Energy Rich South China Sea)
Rare earths are the big prize. The small town of Narsaq sits near one of the world’s largest deposits of rare earths. According to Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd, one of the island’s leading mineral development companies, that deposit could contain about 10.3 million metric tons of rare earth metals, equivalent to about 10 percent of the known global reserves (which today total about 110 million metric tons, according to the U.S. Geological Survey).
In this week’s episode of R-Squared Energy TV, I talk about the significance of China’s dominance of rare earth element production, and the conversion of pyrolysis oil into fuel.
The questions answered this week are:
1. Can you discuss the uses of ‘rare earth’ elements in the production of renewable energies (i.e., wind and solar)? Furthermore, can you comment on the supply of rare earth elements? I recently watched this video from Real Clear Energy. Is it accurate that China controls 97% of the current supplies? What implications does this have on growth of hybrid transportation, the wind and the solar industry in the USA?
2. I was watching your reports and was wondering your opinion about the feasibility of pyrolysis. I’ve seen a lot of companies advertising that they have take plastic or tires and produce 80+% and 45% pyrolysis oil respectively. Is that accurate? You also mention upgrading of pyrolysis oil, are there any companies out there who can do it on a commercially viable process? If so could you point me in the right direction?