Importance of Rare Earth Metals – November 30, 2011

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It would not be an exaggeration to suggest that the availability of oil has been the driving engine of 20th century industrial progress. The imperative necessity for economically advanced countries to secure uninterrupted oil supplies, especially from the Middle East, to maintain and augment their economic well being has been catalogued by a number of analysts.

Now, in addition to oil, another commodity- rare earth metals- has begun to occupy the attention of policy makers and entrepreneurs. Rare earth metals are essential components of modern items ranging from cell phones and iPods to turbines and missiles. The increasing demand for and necessity of access to, rare earth metals would increase significantly in the coming years.

It seems that nature has endowed China with a significant quantity of these precious components of modern living. Being endowed with a significantly high proportion of these resources, China is ideally placed to initiate and establish a quasi monopoly in rare earth metals. Though other countries such as Malaysia, Australia and reportedly the US and Canada are devoting resources to the prospecting and extraction of rare earth metals, China so far has the upper hand due to its rich endowments. Interestingly rare earth metals have been found by the Geological Survey of Pakistan in Swat, Loe Shilman and Khyber Agency. If the hard pressed Pakistani authorities can somehow muster the technical resources to exploit this potential wealth, it would auger well for that country.

There are some Chinese firms and possibly some US and Canadian firms in partnership with China which are reportedly offering investors the opportunity to invest in their companies. The returns promised are very attractive. It might be worthwhile to build up a knowledge base on rare earth metals and explore the investment opportunities in companies specializing in rare earth metals.

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