The NY Times reports that the Chinese government has placed a trade embargo on all exports to Japan of a crucial category of minerals used in products like hybrid cars, wind turbines and guided missiles.
China mines 93 percent of the world’s rare earth minerals, and more than 99 percent of the world’s supply of some of the most prized rare earths, which sell for several hundred dollars a pound.
The embargo comes after a dispute over Japan’s detention of a Chinese fishing trawler captain whose ship collided with two Japanese coast guard vessels as he tried to fish in waters controlled by Japan but long claimed by China.
The Chinese embargo is likely to have immediate repercussions in Washington. The House Committee on Science and Technology is scheduled to review a detailed bill to subsidize the revival of the American rare earths industry and the House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to review the American military dependence on Chinese rare earth elements.”