In this story hitting the East Asia news wires, Showa Denko, a leading Japanese metals fabricator, announced it will be moving its Rare Earths manufacturing facility to China.
This is an alarm bell for anyone who believes the U.S. must stake a leadership claim in the green-tech sector. Coupled with decreased Chinese exports, access to primary metals used in a full range of green technologies – wind turbines, solar panels, CFL bulbs and electric batteries – will create pressure to site manufacturing plants near the mines. In short, if the metals won’t come to you, you’ll have to go to the metals.
The story notes that Japan had resisted “overseas production to protect its technologies.” Lack of access to Rare Earths has made that concern a luxury the company can no longer afford.
Rare Earths are well known for their magnetic properties. We’re now seeing the magnetic pull that results when one country dominates the resource supply.