Will a near-monopoly in rare earth metals do for China what oil did for Saudi Arabia?
Not if the U.S. government has anything to say about it.
President Barack Obama made that clear last week when he joined the European Union and the Japanese government in filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization
(WTO) about China's manipulation of the global market in rare earth metals.
"We've got to take control of our energy future and we cannot let that energy industry take root in some other country because they were allowed to break the rules," Obama said in a press conference.
It's a clear signal that Obama will do anything to keep China from maintaining a stranglehold on rare earth metals-a set of 17 minerals that are responsible for powering everything from hybrid cars to self-cleaning ovens.
More importantly, the filing is an acknowledgement that the minerals represent a crucial source of renewable energy that are now essential to the way we live.
Rare Earth Metals: Easy to Find, Hard to Mine
Rare earths have been in the headlines a lot recently.
That's because demand for rare earth metals has skyrocketed in the past few years and is likely to grow exponentially in the years ahead.
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