Forbes recently put out an article highlighting the massive amount of rare earth minerals North Korea possesses.
It was revealed recently that North Korea is sitting on approximately $6 trillion worth of natural resources, which the country lacks the technology or expertise to extract. The impoverished nation is quite literally sitting on a goldmine, a significant portion of which is made up of rare earth metals.
Rare earth metals are not – as you would expect – exceptionally rare, but are generally found in small trace quantities underground. What is rare is to find them in high concentrations, which is exactly what experts believe is present beneath the soil of North Korea.
Not only are these resources difficult to obtain, they’re also crucial to many of our most advanced technologies. “The magnetic and conductive properties of these elements allow our modern technologies to be lighter, faster, and stronger, making them more efficient,” says Dr. Julie Michelle Klinger, an assistant professor of international relations at Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies. Among other things, they’re used in MRI scanners, cancer treatment drugs, nuclear reactor shielding, aircraft engines and smartphones.
“Without rare earths and the miniaturization capabilities they provide, computers would be the size of classrooms instead of the size of smartphones,” says Dr. Klinger. She points out that although the likelihood of rare earth elements beneath North Korea is high, they are obtainable elsewhere in the world. The concern, therefore, is not over where these elements can be found, but rather with where they are already being mined.
Today, around 90% of the world’s rare earth elements come from China (mostly in Inner Mongolia). Between January and September 2016, China exported 35,200 tons of rare-earth materials, a 50% increase (PDF) compared to the same period in 2015, according to the USGS. Other nations such as the U.S. have been attempting to build out their own refinery systems, so as not to be so dependent on China’s supply, but progress has been slow. The one refinery that the U.S. has established was shut down last year, and was sold last month to a Chinese consortium.
As I wrote about earlier today China realizes how smart President Trump is. You’re fooling yourself if you don’t think President Trump realizes the cache of REMs available under their feet and is positioning the United States to at least have a chance of competing against China for them in North Korea. None of this would be possible if he’d gone with the neo-con war approach the establishment so desperately wanted him to do. He is a master of far east politics and has treated Kim Jong Un with respect for him to save face and played hardball to be respected. Great vid below from styxhexenhammer666 about why President Trump is succeeding in the far east regarding foreign policy.