Japan to China: Don't Bogart That Dysprosium
Ironically enough, the name of the rare earth element "dysprosium" is derived from the Greek δυσπροσιτος [dysprositos] meaning "hard to obtain." But obtain it Toyota must; the element is crucial for the manufacturer of nickel metal hydride batteries and hybrid engines. The Guardian Newspaper reports that Japanese Trade Minister Akira Amari is lobbying China to ease-up on their tightening grip on dysprosium, platinum (needed for catalytic converters) and other rare metals. Earlier this year, China banned duty-free exports of rare earth ores for processing. On Wednesday, the PRC announced it would bar foreign investment in mining rare minerals or those that can't be recycled. China produces roughly 90 percent of Japan's rare earth earth minerals (i.e. "China's got Japan's manufacturers by the throat."). According to CBC News, that's because "Over the past two decades, China has tapped into a motherlode of cheap, easy-to-extract, rare earth resources, byproducts of the country's Bayan Obo iron ore operations in the north." Minister Amari isn't placing all his elements in one basket. He's also heading to South Africa and Botswana to secure alternative supplies. What was that about the total environmental impact of hybrids?
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