Rare earth minerals : China explores cutting off supply to the EU and US

How important are Rare Earth Minerals to the EU electronics industry.This from a Bloomberg Market Drivers update

“China is exploring whether it can hurt U.S. defence contractors by limiting supplies of rare earth minerals, that are critical to the industry, the Financial Times reported. Industry executives said government officials had asked them how badly firms in the U.S. and Europe would be affected if China restricted rare earth exports during a bilateral dispute, the FT reported, citing people it didn’t identify involved in the consultation. Rare earths are used in everything from smartphones to fighter jets. China controls most of the world’s mining and has an even tighter hold on processing.”

Rare earth mineralsThe answer to the question is “hugely”

There is approximately 10 million tonnes of WEEE Generated in The EU every year of which about 3.5 million tonnes are recovered for processing and recovery. The rest disappears into the Global “grey market” or “sent for repair and reuse” or just shipped to the lowest cost of disposal location, without any consideration of the environmental consequences and bypassing the EU WEEE Directive.

It is possible to recover rare earth minerals from WEEE but it costs money and as usual, as we know from our twenty five years of experience in recycling WEEE, environmental considerations or, in the case of rare earth metals, considering the long term financial consequences to the wider community, go out the window when organisations are confronted with “Having to Pay” for proper disposal.

If China chokes off  rare earth minerals, the life blood of the electronics industry, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

The same thing applies to all the Copper lost in the 6.5 million tonnes of WEEE that disappears from the EU every year.

Electronic Recycling and our processing partners have the ability to provide the solution for the recovery of rare earth minerals from WEEE

President Trump, Brexit and the Environment


Environment

 

Hopefully the latest shift of power in the USA, combined with the recent Brexit vote to leave the EU, who define most of our environmental policies, will not reverse the drive towards a permanently sustainable environment for all.



What’s the point of a successful economy if the environment we have to live in is a sewer?


 

Ireland has been making some progress but the latest report from the EPA shows that there is much still to do  



The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive of 2005 (re-cast in 2012) is an example of how environmental legislation can drive the management of waste in a more sustainable direction.


Even with the WEEE Directive in full force, we still only manage to collect and treat about 35% of the 10 million Tonnes of waste electronics generated in the EU every year.


The Paris COP21 signed by 197 countries this year (so far ratified by 103 countries) is an example of environmental policies that can only be agreed if the global community are on board, especially the larger and more affluent countries. The COP21 is the first such agreement that the USA has ever signed up to.


Electronic Recycling are actively involved in collecting and managing WEEE in Ireland, committed to being part of the solution of the EU target to collect and treat 65% of all electronic equipment placed on the market.