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Trade War Saber Rattling Is Old News In Magnetics
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Trade War Saber Rattling Is Old News In Magnetics

Permanent & Electromagnets for Automation | AEC Magnetics

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Don't blame Trump for starting the tempest in a China teacup brewing over trade tariffs. As AEC Magnetics has been reporting for years, China is king of the world's permanent magnetics market.  "China mines and produces more than 95-percent of the the world's REE, or rare earth elements, the minerals that make permanent magnets," said Bill Klaus, president of Cincinnati, Ohio, based AEC Magnetics. "The United States mines and produces none at this time."  Molycorp mined and produced REEs at its Mountain Pass, Califorinia, AEC Magnetics Molycorp industrialmagnetMountain Pass, California facility, until 2002, but closed in response to both environmental restrictions and lower prices for REEs. The mine has been mostly inactive since then. Molycorp declared bankruptcy last year and  the mine was sold at auction."   

ABCs of  REEs  Rare earth elements, the 15 lanthanides, plus scandium and yttrium if you are following along on your periodic table, are naturally-occurring elements that have unique properties, such as magnetism and phosphorescence. These are mined, processed and sold to manufacturers and governments worldwide. Some are made into the tiny permanent magnets enable our smartphones to have color screens, speakers and the ability to vibrate.  Electric vehicles and hybrid cars use permanent magnets in their batteries. Guided missiles and satellite systems use permanent magnets.Bill on phone office 300Bill Klaus 

Strangling or finagling? You will hear of China's stranglehold on the market and alarming consequences if an all-out trade war erupts. "Sure, it's alarming when you hear China is sitting on a Fort Knox of minerals vital to industry and national security. The U.S. has had its capacity to mine, refine, smelt and process these elements diminish because of a strong anti-mining agenda so we are relying on China, Russia, and third-world dictatorships for some pretty important stuff. But it's important to remember the world has been relatively satisfied letting China doing the heavy lifting in REEs, especially since mining and processing them is dirty, harsh business. China has been relatively fair on pricing and availability. Together, this indicates some level of world satisfaction with the current REE market," said Mr. Klaus.

Alternatives on the horizon: When China did restrict REE exports begining in 2012, the World Trade Organization supported the U.S., E.U. and Japan, and ordered China to lift its restrictions. Interestingly, some saw opportunity in REE trade war. Some alternate production facilities ramped up to fill the void, and research found a potential alternative to ground mining when the U. S. Department of Energy's National Technology Lab announced U.S. scientists found high REE concentrations in five U.S. coal basins, a possible source for REEs and permanent magnetic materials. 

fanny aecFanny, AEC sourcing, China AEC Magnetics customers are set. "There is no arguing that REEs are essential and demand is critical," said Mr. Klaus. "Our customers should rest assured there are opportunities with, and outside of, China. AEC formed relationships with the best, most trustworthy and dependable permanent magnetic materials suppliers in the world and our work to that end will continue uninterrupted. If open, reliable new sources of permanent magnetic materials are available, count on AEC to be bring them to market. We have been in industrial magnetics since 1961 and will continue to provide the best magnetic solutions in the industry, trade war or not."