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The Australian National University

Public seminar

Rare earth elements: Simple commodity or strategic vulnerability?

Speakers: Associate Professor Eugene Gholz and Professor Dudley Kingsnorth
Date: Thursday 23 October 2014
Time: 5.45pm – 7.00pm
Venue: Weston Theatre, Crawford Building #132, 1 Lennox Crossing, ANU
Vodcast: Watch the video
Seminar flyer: Download the flyer
Registration: Register here

Tony PressRare earths are a group of 17 elements with unique chemical, magnetic and luminescent properties crucial for the functioning of much of today’s high technology equipment, including MRIs, lap-top computers, hybrid vehicles and LEDs. They also have important applications in the defence industry.

China is the dominant supplier of rare earth elements (REEs), meeting at least 85% of global demand. In 2010, REEs were splashed across the front pages of newspapers when it significantly reduced rare earth export quotas and temporarily suspended their shipment to Japan. Consumers quickly recognised that diversity of reliable supply is just as important as price and quality, and as a consequence since then there has been a concerted effort to replace, reduce and recycle REEs.

So are REEs best understood as simple commodities, or as strategic resources that can be used as tools of statecraft? And can Australia play a part in the development of alternative reliable sources of rare earths? To help understand the strategic importance of REEs the National Security College and Crawford School of Public Policy welcome two global experts in the field:

Eugene Gholz is Associate Professor of Public Affairs at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas (Austin). During 2010-2012, he served in the Pentagon as Senior Advisor to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy. He led initiatives to better understand the complex defense supply chain and to apply that understanding in the budget process. He also focused on policy regarding reimbursement of industry's independent Research and Development expenditures. Professor Gholz is the author of numerous books and papers, including most recently Rare Earths and National Security published by the Council of Foreign Relations in New York.

Dudley Kingsnorth is a Professor at the Curtin Graduate School of Business, where he established the Critical Materials Initiative. Professor Kingsnorth is recognised as a world authority on rare earths. He has over 40 years’ experience in the international mining industry in operations, project development, marketing, consulting and business development. He was the Project Manager of the Mt Weld Rare Earths Project, is the author/editor of the last four editions of the Roskill report on rare earths and has been an independent consultant the past 12 years. Professor Kingsnorth has given many keynote addresses to international rare earths conferences and was Chairman of the first Critical Minerals Conference held in Perth in June 2013. He has provided confidential advice on rare earths to several government departments worldwide.

The National Security College is a joint initiative of the Commonwealth Government and ANU.

Updated:  6 November 2014/ Responsible Officer:  Head of College, National Security College/ Page Contact:  Web administrator, National Security College