Boston University’s Klinger Interviewed by CNBC on China’s Supply of Neodymium

OCTOBER 19, 2018, BU.edu

Julie Klinger, Assistant Professor of International Relations at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, was interviewed for a recent article on China’s supply of neodymium — a rare metal used in technology such as headphones, cellphones and cars.

Klinger was quoted in an October 19, 2018 article by CNBC entitled “A Rare Metal Called Neodymium is in Your Headphones, Cellphone and Maybe Even Your Car — and China Controls the World’s Supply.

From the text of the article:

But demand for the rare earth metal is outstripping supply by about 3,000 tons per year, said Julie Klinger, the author of “Rare Earth Frontiers.”

The risks involved in relying so significantly on a single source for such a valuable commodity were illustrated during a trade dispute between China and Japan in 2010. The price per metric ton jumped from $50,000 in 2010 to $250,000 in 2011, Klinger said.

“If you want to open an neodymium mine you’re going to bring up a whole bunch of other elements with it alongside neodymium…sometimes uranium” said Klinger. “It’s very difficult to open a mine in a particular place without destroying the landscapes and livelihoods that were previously there.”

But Klinger is optimistic that as demand continues to rise, better processes will be implemented.

“One of the things that is good about the projected increase in demand for neodymium is that we will likely see a diversification of neodymium supply,” Klinger said. “My hope is with that we will also see increased international cooperation around recycling and reclaiming neodymium from spent electronic motors.”

Julie Michelle Klinger, PhD, specializes in development, environment, and security politics in Latin America and China in comparative and global perspective. Her recent book Rare Earth Frontiers: From Terrestrial Subsoils to Lunar Landscapes (Cornell University Press in Fall 2017) received the 2017 Meridian Award from the American Association of Geographers for its “unusually important contribution to advancing the art and science of geography.”

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