Published May 3 2009 by Energy Bulletin
Archived May 3 2009

Geopolitics - May 3

by Staff

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While we moan, the Chinese get on with it

Carl Mortished, Times (UK)
... This is the moment that China has been waiting for - global financial mayhem, commodity price weakness, governments in disarray and a war chest of $2trillion in foreign currency reserves. Recession has not distracted the officials who manage China's sovereign wealth funds. Half of China's oil is imported and the need will rise to two thirds by 2020. This is the time to buy cheap reserves of oil, gas, copper and iron ore and they are busy scooping up every spare tonne, ounce, barrel within reach.
(29 April 2009)

China tightens grip on rare earths

Robin Bromby, The Australian
THE late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping once said: "The Middle East has oil, China has rare earths".
Now his successors could add: "And we also have Australia's rare earths".

And that means China keeps its control of the global rare earths market - and allows it to call the tune on the future of a number of industries, including electronic and green technologies.

Rare earths came into their own with colour television - europium, for example, is necessary to have the colour red on your (TV and computer) screen; terbium produces the colour green. Dysprosium, for example, is necessary in the production of compact discs and can also be used in some nuclear control applications. Yttrium, among its many uses, has properties that allow it to be used in the transmission of acoustic energy. Batteries and magnets are other uses for rare earth elements.

But these elements have many military applications as well, which gives a political and strategic dimension to the announcement today that China Non-Ferrous Metal Mining will become the majority shareholder in Lynus Corp (LYC), a company which has the Mt Weld project in Western Australia, said to be the world’s richest undeveloped deposit of rare earths.
(1 May 2009)

‘Failing State’ Yemen May Send Terror to Gulf as Economy Fades

Henry Meyer, Bloomberg
... Yemen, the poorest Arab nation, is seeing annual tourist numbers dwindle to the thousands from 100,000 two decades ago because of worsening security. This is ending government hopes that its historical landmarks, including the 3,000-year-old Queen of Sheba temple and four United Nations World Heritage sites, can generate revenue and jobs to diversify the oil- dominated economy.

The country’s 2.8 billion barrels of oil reserves, which fund 70 percent of the national budget, are forecast by the government to run out over the next decade. With little foreign aid, economic prospects are shrinking for a population that is expected to double by 2030 to 40 million.

The threat is rising of social unrest that could strengthen al-Qaeda as it seeks to use Yemen as a base to destabilize neighboring Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of crude. Somalia, across the Gulf of Aden, hasn’t had a functioning central government since 1991 and has become a breeding ground for pirates who attack shipping lanes.
(27 April 2009)