Lynas and Lifton Agree that the #1 Shortfall in the Critical Minerals Industries are People.
The industrial manufacturing illiterates who populate the political and academic communities in North America and Europe don’t ever seem to notice, much less address, the core problem facing the non-Chinese rare earth industries, the lack of a skilled workforce at all levels.
The sport of bashing mining and processing of critical minerals has now essentially destroyed the American academic world’s support of mining and chemical process engineering. At the same time the cultural derogation of the mining profession in America has not made modern mining attractive to the young workers who can be trained to operate complex and dangerous if mishandled, mining equipment in extreme environments, frequently subsurface, in which mining is carried out.
Kathleen Conlon, the Chairwoman of Australian Lynas Rare Earths Ltd. (ASX: LYC), the non-Chinese world’s most advanced large miner/processor of rare earths said, just this week, that even in mining-friendly Australia “…with a rare earth boom gathering pace across the globe, the board [of Lynas] is acutely aware that we operate in a highly competitive market and that the specialized skills of our team are in high demand in the rare earths and other minerals processing industries.” Her point being that even in mining friendly Australia, where Lynas, alone, is spending more than 500 million dollars on enlarging its capacity to mine rare earths and to process the ore, there are not enough unengaged and experienced miners and engineers.
America’s blind elevation of social justice to the pinnacle of academic studies combined with its worship of “credentials” over proven experience and skill in STEM subjects has reduced America’s ability to rapidly respond to China’s fait accompli in monopolizing the rare earths’ industries.
It will take a generation of dedicated education and training to reconstruct an American and European critical minerals mining and processing industry.
The Chinese did it from scratch by utilizing Western academia and the Western mining industry. Our professors, our engineers, and our site managers trained the Chinese to do a world class job.
Does the West have the stomach and the brains to recreate, at home, the human basis of support that the mining and processing industries need to exist, much less to be competitive?
Time is running out.