Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Mainland Chinese Rare Earth Monopoly: Bad for Airsoft?

Even though Beijing had resumed exports of rare earth metals to Japan, is Mainland China’s monopoly of the global rare earth metals industry detrimental to the world of Airsoft in the long run?

By: Ringo Bones

The Airsoft gaming world and the rare earth metals global commodities market doesn’t seem to have any links at first, but if you’re a seasoned Airsoft gamer and/ or gun collector, those compact yet powerful electric motors – i.e. the hi-power motor - found in Airsoft weapons systems of the automatic electric gun persuasion is very dependent on powerful rare earth metal based permanent magnets found in their powerful ultra-compact electric motors. Those samarium cobalt and neodymium boron iron magnets in those electric motors are more than likely sourced in Mainland China.

When it comes as an OEM supplier of electric motors, it seems like the Mainland China too has a virtual monopoly on AEG Airsoft guns – i.e. the one that uses electric motors and lithium batteries. Though the diplomatic spat between Beijing and Tokyo may have now calmed and since November 24, 2010 Beijing has resumed rare earth metal exports to Japan, there are other “mitigating” circumstances on why Mainland China’s virtual monopoly of the global rare earth metal industry might not be good for the Airsoft gaming world in the long run.

Given that back in November 25, 2010, Mainland China has plans to set-up 120 fission-type nuclear reactors to minimize its carbon footprint – i.e. moving away from coal-fired power plants. If ever these nuclear power plants come on-line, it is very likely that all rare earth metals mined and processed by China will be used domestically’ As in dysprosium and holmium burnable poisons and the magnetic relays of the nuclear reactors’ safety systems.

Not to mention the latest Wikileaks revelation of the Beijing government “wishing” for a North and South Korean unification where the Seoul government running the show. With all of these geopolitical risk and uncertainty factors taken into account, rare earth metal prices in the global market will skyrocket and those Airsoft electric motors will probably skyrocket in price too. Even the most basic Kalashnikov Airsoft gun is currently way more expensive than a real Kalashnikov – when compared to what a real Kalashnikov back in1999 costs.