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Archive for April, 2013

Technology Born from the Earth

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Last year CLC Lodging released “Hotel Locater” applications for both Android and iPhone. Whether you carry an Android or an iPhone it was literally born out of the soil. Embedded in the rocks of our planet are the rare earth minerals critical to the manufacture of smart phones. Minerals such as neodymium are used in magnets that make speakers vibrate to create sound. Europium is a phosphor that creates a bright red on a phones screen. Cerium gets put into a solvent that workers use to polish devices as they move along the assembly line. Without these elements our mobile phones would weigh 3 pounds. These rare earth elements are also a critical component to most of our modern technology today from batteries to hybrid cars – even our televisions. They are a critical component of almost all green technology. Rare earth elements are neither rare, nor earth, however.  The name dates to the 18th and 19th centuries, when the elements were first isolated out of actually rare minerals. “Rare earth” stuck, but the elements themselves turned out to be pretty common, mixed in small concentrations into rock the world over.

Up until the 1990s, most rare earth elements came from the United States, especially Mountain Pass, a mine in California near Los Angeles. By 2003, Mountain Pass had closed and no rare earths were coming out of the United States at all. The problem, though, isn’t supply. The U.S. still has plenty of rare earth elements left to mine—in Mountain Pass and elsewhere. Instead, those mines were simply driven out of business, undercut on price by Chinese companies that had lower labor costs, and a near complete disregard for the environmental impact of mining operations. Today, China is producing more than 90 percent of the world’s supply of rare-earth minerals, where environmental laws have historically been scant and enforcement lax giving them an unfair advantage over the United States where the environment matters.

So with our concern for the environment can U.S. companies compete with Chinese rivals? The Chinese government has ramped up environmental oversight in recent years. Although, many suspect the move was also intended to drive up prices. While it’s true that the environmental cost of creating a smart phone has been immense, U.S. companies are developing ways to mine the necessary rare-earth minerals with significantly less environmental impact and at a competitive cost in the marketplace.  Mountain Pass mining is underway again and companies like Molycorp are redefining our countries place in the industry. In Elk Creek, Nebraska, Quantum Rare Earths Developments Corp. is close to starting a new mining operation that will be a boom to the local economy. Regulatory pressure, coupled perhaps with the market forces of companies like Molycorp and Quantam, could be the start of a cleaner rare-earth mining industry led by the United States.

If you are in the Mining and Mineral industry in the U.S. then you need every competitive edge you can find. Businesses that use CLC Lodging regularly save 20-40% savings off hotels’ Lowest Published Rates for their workforce travelers. Only CLC clients are eligible for the deeply discounted rates.

Your company will save time and money with the online account that tracks your company’s lodging invoices, an online directory showing more than 10,000 hotels where the card is accepted, and a Lowest Rate Guarantee.

Visit our website at www.clclodging.com to find out more.

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