Wars Are Being Fought Over A Metal You Never Heard Of

Written by Jason Simpkins
Posted May 3, 2018 at 8:00PM

Ever hear of Dysprosium?

How about Neodymium?

Terbium ring any bells?

I don’t even know how to pronounce this one: Yttrium?

None of these words are going to fly in a Scrabble game, but they’re getting people killed every day.

Wars are being fought over them as we speak. And the death toll will continue to climb because these metals are THAT important to national security.

Not just our national security, mind you, but Russia’s, China’s, Iran’s… everyone’s.

These are rare earth metals, and they’re costly, time-consuming, and difficult to extract. They’re labor-intensive to mine, a massive drain on resources, and the very process creates toxic pollution.

But, at the same time, they’re essential.

They’d have to be, right?

To go through all that trouble just to get them…

Indeed, these metals have unique properties, including incredible heat resistance, efficient electrical conductivity, ultra-light weight, and powerful magnetism. That makes them key components in modern technology such as smartphones, laptops, wind turbines, medical devices, electric cars…

And, of course, advanced weapons systems. They’re what make “smart bombs” so “smart.” That includes the guidance system for the widely-used Tomahawk cruise missile and anything else with a laser-guidance component.

That’s why they’re such a big deal. Like I said, they’re a matter of national security.

Rare earths are one of the primary reasons that Soviet Russia invaded Afghanistan in 1979. With over $1 trillion in mineral wealth, the rocky, mountainous nation is a wealth-bed of mineral riches.

Once Russia left, the Taliban took over, funding its operations by selling rare earth metals to China and others.

Iran pillaged Afghanistan to get metals for its nuclear program.

And most recently… President Trump’s 4,000-troop mini-surge in Afghanistan targeted mining regions.

In fact, rare earth metals were the main topic discussed during Trump’s meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani last September.

And yes, the U.S. is so hard up for rare earths that we need to stay in Afghanistan to preserve our stake. Trump’s administration even went so far as to call it a “recoup” for some of the heavy spending the U.S. has done in the region.

That’s partly because the United States has few rare earth deposits. But it’s also because, as I mentioned earlier, these metals can be terribly toxic and expensive to mine. That’s why China, with its total disregard for environmental protection, has a near-total monopoly on rare earths.

The country controls 95% of rare earth production, giving it enormous leverage in the market. This was demonstrated in 2010 when China suddenly tightened its export quotas, imposing duties of 15-25% on its products.

The rare earth supply seized up practically overnight. China eventually loosened is regulations, taking its foot off the throat of the market. But the message was clear.

The United States and others simply must find a way to secure these resources without relying on China.

Or as it was framed in a Senate report on the subject:

“With rare earths essential to every major U.S. defense platform from missile guidance control, directed energy weapons and electronic warfare, to electric drive motors, radar, sonar and optical systems, our deep dependence on Chinese-sourced rare earths poses a significant strategic risk.”

Another Pentagon report blared:

“It is essential that a stable non-Chinese source of rare earths be established so that the U.S. rare earths supply chain is no longer solely dependent on China’s rare earths exports.”

Obviously, other countries feel the same way. From Russia, to North Korea, to Iran, and so on…

Rare earth metals are vital to next-generation war machines and the future of national security. That makes them worth fighting for today.

That much is certain.

What’s a little murkier is how investors can profit. Due to its volatility and barriers to entry (scarcity, high costs, expertise, red tape...) there are only a few companies operating in the sector.

However, our in-house resource expert and editor of Junior Mining Monthly, recently uncovered a promising play. Turns out, there’s a small mining company that just discovered several new rare earth deposits in Sweden.

This new mining project is perfectly positioned to make a killing on the international scramble for essential minerals. And it’s an ideal supplier for major tech companies like Apple and Tesla.

You can find out about that, and more, in Gerardo’s latest report by clicking here.

Fight on,

Jason Simpkins Signature

Jason Simpkins

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Jason Simpkins is Assistant Managing Editor of the Outsider Club and Investment Director of The Wealth Warrior, a financial advisory focused on security companies and defense contractors. For more on Jason, check out his editor's page. 

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