Rare-earths, scams and fake-news

In Les Echos on 13 12 2018

Rare earths are not rare, the rest appears to be an anti-electric car fake-news.

Following this radio broadcast, a clarification was requested.

The first fake-news about rare earths is geological. Estimates indicate that there are more than 10,000 times more rare earths accumulated in the earth’s crust than gold. Naturally, this figure hides heterogeneity among the 17 rare earths. If the soil has more than 62,000 times more cerium than gold, there would only be about 500 times more thulium than gold. In a word, rare earths are not rare.

It’s an environmental hoax, because China has since longtime put its production in order.

It is also a geostrategic lie because outside China, many countries have rare earth deposits. They are scattered all over the earth’s crust, even in France. Isn’t the geological, geostrategic and anti-Chinese misanthropy fake-news ridiculous?

 Agitating rare earth prices is also an economic fake-news. Admittedly, prices speculatively increased between 500% and 7000% from 2007 to 2011. But it’s time to get over it. By 2012 they had collapsed; in 2014 they were sinking to levels that were sometimes lower than those of 2007. Since then they have been stable at low levels. And yet the hoax is still out there. Do some regret that they can no longer and better condemn China?

 Imagining a Chinese industry plot is another fake-news. The first industries to protest against the high prices of 2011 were neither Japanese nor European companies, but Chinese corporates themselves, because this upstream raw material of their factories was beyond price. Their interest was and is to have low and stable prices and ours is to have efficient Chinese industries to buy less and less expensive products that are more and more efficient.

It is also a French fake-news, because the only rare earth ore processing plant outside China is in France, in La Rochelle. There is no doubt that it is only waiting to grow. This would be a good national strategic objective. But its future was not helped by a recent publication duping its readers by presenting its 2018 environmental situation with a delirious rearview mirror focused on the 1990s. Did the malicious ecological fake-news have the objective of crystallizing an opinion against this factory ?

 It is also a European fake-news because if exploration of a rare earth deposit in Greenland were to benefit from European funds, it would be worth considering why its exploitation would be exclusively backed by Chinese processing plants. Why not use the La Rochelle plant?

It’s finally more than a fake-news on the investment side. Has a scam takenplace?  Did crafty communicators proliferated using smoky theories linking rare earth scarcity and China? Were they overwhelmingly dazzling small investors, were their savings put in rare earth investments wiped out? Shouldn’t we observe why this communication was organized and understand the financial motivations of the talkative reapers?

On the consumption side, the rare earth fake-news is also anti-electrical when we knowthat a simple magnetic coil already replaces rare earths in electric vehicles. But this mystification is still in progress, because the same reckless are re-crushing this « rare earth fake-news » by adapting it to batteries. By mixing catastrophic and sensationalism, a new slogan, « green car, red battery », fights electric mobility with obvie. According to this traffic, electric mobility will always be expensive and polluting, no longer because of rare earths, but this time because of the cobalt contained in the battery. Alas, ignorance is unaware of progress in this area, and the result is a fake-news that mobility inequality would produce disparity of living standards, and the “rare metals” hoax was in its own way fueling the mainstream of the « Yellow Vests ».

In conclusion, who will benefit from these impostures in rare earths and rare metals? Would there be relationships between hoax maltôtiers and private interests, energy lobbies, charity business lobbies? It is time to stop fake-news of rare earths and rare metals.