China Used to Hold All the Cards. Not Anymore.

Written by Ryan Stancil
Posted December 21, 2019

What do you do when you need to buy something, but the only place to get it is a place you’d rather not shop? 

That’s a problem many of the world’s nations face when it comes to metals. It’s a problem, in particular, for the United States Air Force as it seeks to expand how it trains its airmen. 

In recent years, the Air Force has turned to Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) for pilot training. These methods, via a program called Pilot Training Next, have been used to get airmen through basic pilot training faster and more cheaply than traditional methods. It doesn’t take much to see how this could benefit the branch, and the program’s success so far shows why commanders would want to expand it. 

But there is one problem. Much of the equipment used for the training comes from China. And because it comes from China, there’s a very real risk with using it in the field. 

This was a concern expressed by Col. Gerard Ryan, chief of the Air Force’s operational training infrastructure division. At a recent conference, he said: 

I don’t think the security policy is going to pass. And I say that sarcastically, but it’s true. If we’re going to use a gaming engine, let’s make sure it’s not made by a foreign country that we don’t like. 

And it’s in the interest of the Air Force to find a reliable source for this equipment. As I said, this method has allowed the Air Force to shave months off of the training timeline. The training that airmen undertake to become pilots is unclassified, but the Air Force wants to eventually integrate this kind of tech into the real thing. 

That means putting similar technology into fighters and bombers to be used by airmen who are dealing with sensitive data. If they continue using technology supplied by China, that opens the door for all sorts of data collection. This applies to the headsets themselves as well as the components that make them up. 

And those components are especially important to keep an eye on. 

The Deeper Issue

VR/AR headsets, like many modern electronics, rely on many different metals to work. Those metals often include silver, gold, palladium, and lithium, among others. Many of these metals are found in mines throughout China while being much harder to come by in other parts of the world. 

And that’s an advantage China will exploit. 

With the trade war having escalated over the past year, China has threatened to cut off the supply of many of these critical metals. Doing so would send shockwaves through several industries, leaving companies without the supplies they need to make their products. 

But even without a full cut-off, prices for many of these key metals have shot up because of ongoing tension. As a result, companies and governments have taken notice and started taking steps to get away from China’s stranglehold on essential metals. 

Because of the nature of the mining business, pulling from new mines and getting new production facilities online takes time. Still, doing so will go a long way in securing supply without disrupting operations for anyone who relies on these metals. 

It’s Only the Beginning 

The world is only going to need more of these critical metals in the coming years. That means finding sources for them outside of China is going to be a growing priority. It will also be a growing opportunity to make money. 

One company, in particular, is taking note of this and is working to bring supply online. 

The Department of Defense needs these metals for planes, ships, and vehicles. 

Consumer electronics companies need them for cell phones, computers, batteries, and many other items used in everyday life. 

This company’s project, in Sweden of all places, is in a position to provide them. 

Gerardo Del Real has all the details in his latest report. 

If you act now, you can get in on this chance before supply gets really tight and the scramble for these metals becomes even greater. 

Don’t miss out on the chance to profit as the West turns its back on China for these metal supplies in the name of securing its own sources. 

Keep your eyes open,

Ryan Stancil
Contributing Editor, Outsider Club

Heal Your Ailing Portfolio Body