Analyzing Conflicting Reports of a Rare Earths Technology Ban by China


Dynamic Reading – Is this the prodigy of today’s AI Report Writing phenomenon? I have been asked to write my thoughts on the latest news about potential rare earths technology bans from China. The first reference I received was written by Shunsuke Tabeta, a staff writer for Nikkei Asia: China weighs export ban for rare-earth magnet tech

The second reference I received was written by Jingyue Hsiao of DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei. This was in response to the Nikkei Asia news: A rare earth war simmers as China reportedly to impose export ban

I then received the preparatory title of a response from one of the InvestorIntel journalists: “What happens next if China bans rare earths technology needed to process rare earths and to make high-performance magnets”.

Lessons from the past

Got me thinking about how people’s reading styles, capabilities, and mental processes appear to be controlling how they understand the reading matter and therefore influence the way they report or comment. Reminded me of a few years back when my granddaughter wasn’t achieving at high school.

I purchased National Geographic subscriptions for us both and commenced a weekly telephone hook-up routine. We took turns investigating each article, with one being the interviewer developing the questions and the other, being the interviewee who had to answer the questions. Who, What, When, Where? With those satisfactorily answered you could then ask the key question: Why? Look at what this does. It focuses the mind to search for factual information BEFORE you look for answers that may be swayed by things such as bias, agendas, or less well-informed previous interactions. It also aids in memory retention.

Unpacking the articles

Look at the Nikkei headline: “export ban”. The DIGITIMES headline reads: “Rare earth war”. The InvestorIntel “What happens next”. These all point to and highlight the differences in the author’s history, experience, and understanding of the topic or their editorial bent.

I thought back and my favorite primary school teacher came to mind. She used these Who, What, When, Where, and Why prompts when I was learning to read. No, not read but understand. So Mrs. long-since-forgotten surname, thank you for your skills. But, I’ll lay claim to the Dynamic Reading title. BTW, it’s about now I’m expecting some hi-tech whiz kid to jump in and say that this tool is similar but opposite to the AI report writers that aggregate multi-article “Who, What, When, Where, and Why” information. Strange place the past!

So I’ll use Dynamic Reading to get to my response to the articles.

Nikkei Asia (Japanese)DIGITIMES Asia (Taiwanese)
WhoChina. Un-named Beijing OfficialsChina
WhatConsidering prohibiting exports of certain rare earth magnet technologyChina had updated a technology export restriction list which may ban the exports of certain rare earth elements
WhenLater this yearLater this year

What is really being written

Note already the difference in the What. Banning Rare earth magnet technology versus Rare earth elements. So, do I have enough to comment? To provide a Why? Well, not from that information, I need more.

The DIGITIMES Asia article cites Quartz as reporting that China is trying to defend its dominance in rare earths by increasing investments at home and abroad. This position is not supported by the Off-Market Sale of the East China Exploration (ECE) Group of their holdings in Arafura Resources Ltd. (ASX: ARU). Especially since Arafura is well progressed on its Nolans Project development schedule. And then Lynas Rare Earths Ltd. (ASX: LYC) is very well developed on their North American value-adding schedule.

To be honest, I have always had difficulty in developing an overview of how China aggregates and controls the Rare Earth business in China. Although the quotas and technology strategies appear to be working well on paper (their paper), it is not without some resistance from the regions that want more self-governance over their resources. Go no further than looking at the resource development battle between the light rare earths in Baotou, the heavy rare earths in Guangzhou, and the historic separation plants around Nanjing.

My conclusions

My take? Well, I would question: Is the news real or not? Is it part of a grander plan? I am sure that China can see the many developments occurring outside of China. And I am sure that China sees the projected growth in rare earths that are needed and coming from developing towards a Net Zero Carbon future. And I am sure that China must acknowledge that its pre-eminent position is not so much as under threat but that it will lessen as the whole of the world looks to resource development for a global benefit.

So, my feelers are out for more information. Difficult though these days and especially now that TikTok bans are muddying the relationships. Let’s just hope for everyone’s future that China’s People’s Liberation Army (“PLA”) venture into the Straights of Taiwan is not on, or part of, any strategic China agenda.

Oh, my granddaughter? She went from the bottom quartile of her class to be in the top 10%. And is now running her own business. Simply by being taught how to read.

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3 responses

  1. Tracy Weslosky Avatar
    Tracy Weslosky

    You tap dance all around the question, what do you think Steve? Is the alleged rumor, real? I stand behind my statement that threats, whether true or false, need to be taken seriously. After all, the ramifications of this news being false is as troubling as if its true and cannot be discounted. Who, for instance – pending the rumor is false, stands to gain in spreading this misinformation?

    As in everything, we will understand with time as its the only thing that stands the test of time, is the truth.

  2. Steve Mackowski Avatar
    Steve Mackowski

    Ok. I think the rumour is real but what is its purpose. I don’t think it’s a threat to the world, There seems no point to that. I think it’s meant to look like a world wide issue but really its target is Taiwan. Look at what we can do to threaten your technology industries. We can hurt you economically. Oh and look out to sea and the air. We can hurt you physically. The message? We are coming. The degree of pain will be up to you.

  3. Rare Earths Investor Avatar
    Rare Earths Investor

    Thanks for the perspective. Nice to see others (Lifton, Sanderson, Bohlsen, Mackowski, etc) now discussing the geopolitics of today (not the last decade) and the impact on the RE sector. Mel Sanderson has asked recently about ‘bomb or dud’ on the issue in this article while the present author talks about the impact of narrative construction.

    I look at these issues from a retail RE investors’ perspective. Don’t argue right or wrong or ethics, etc., on topics I can’t personally impact. I look to exploit the grey areas (a NEO CEO’s recent reference) that develop within the cracks of the RE sector’s growing ‘story’.

    IMHO, the present situation on China and RE/magnet sanctions is not a dud but rather a narrative (beyond the quantitative supply-demand projections) that is driving the diversification of the ROW RE supply issue. Chaos theory highlights the importance of looped feedback and the interrelation of events on developing patterns. We certainly have chaos at the moment globally and all those involved in the sector – govs’, RE wannabees, downstream manufacturers, etc., are influenced by a geopolitical narrative that runs around events including, the Covid impact; supply chain dysfunction; ESG compliance; Ukraine – Russia – EU; China – Russia – NATO; China – US – Taiwan; internal gov’ politics, etc, etc.

    The issue of China and RE/magnets feeds back onto every one of the highlighted events and compounds the drive for RE sector diversification. A narrative alone, oh yes it is powerful, but, an actual China sanction arriving, then yes, you have dropped the ‘bomb’.

    Thanks to all II writers for adding to this discussion.

    GLTA – REI

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