Ressources stratégiques et géopolitique
According to this alarming story in Britain’s Telegraph, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is weighing a total ban on exports of terbium, dysprosium, yttrium, thulium, and lutetium — and may restrict foreign sales of other rare-earth metals. But don’t panic yet: U.S.-based Molycorp Minerals is preparing to resume mining of rare earth ore deposits at a California facility, pictured here.
Still, it’s a reminder of the role that strategic resources play, especially for the high-tech military of the United States. As I reported a few years back in the Financial Times, the Pentagon has become increasingly concerned over Chinese demand for specialty steels and titanium, which are key to armor plating, aircraft design and other high-end weaponry. Finding new, affordable sources of military-grade titanium has been a top priority of Darpa, the Pentagon’s far-out research arm.
Of course, China is not the only country that’s figuring out how to play the mineral-wealth hand in geopolitics. For several years now, Russia has used natural-gas supply as a way to exert less-than-subtle pressure on its neighbors. Energy, the Kremlin found, is a more effective instrument than an aging nuclear-weapons stockpile: You can actually turn the gas taps off when you feel like punishing someone.
As an old piece of wisdom from the Strategic Air Command put it, “When you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”
Source : Danger Room