Back in July, I wrote about rare earth minerals (REE)
and their importance to the high-tech industry. From cell phones, laptops and almost any type of electronics you can imagine, REEs make them work. China controls the largest source of these materials in the world, and thus with control comes risk—risk to the demand base.
As we approach the November elections, I’m reminded of the ramifications of politics both domestically and abroad. In September, China stopped all shipments of REEs to Japan in retaliation for Japan’s detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain. And earlier today, rumors
swirled that REE shipments were also being cut to the U.S. and the European Union because of environmental concerns. It certainly highlights the fragility of any supply chain and the risks involved regardless of how much planning is involved. Because of China’s near monopoly of REE (the country holds 95% of the world’s reserves), countries such as Japan and the U.S. potentially...