|No other resource has been at the center of conflict more in the last century than oil.
In World War II, British and U.S. planes waged a relentless air campaign targeting oil and oil products fueling the massive German war machine.
In 1990, we quickly rushed headfirst into the Middle East after Saddam Hussein annexed Kuwait.
Heated arguments between the two countries had ignited over crude oil, with Iraq going so far as to accuse Kuwait of outright theft via slant drilling.
What we do know, however, is that Kuwait’s oil output was cutting deeply into Iraq’s oil revenues.
Believe me, we didn’t rush into the fray out of the goodness of our hearts.
It was to protect our oil interests.
In the 20th century, technology was fueled by fossil fuels.
There’s absolutely no denying that fact.
But even though these oil-driven conflicts aren’t going away in the foreseeable future (well, at least until the world stops guzzling down crude at a rate of 98 million barrels per day!), the wars of the 21st century will be fought over much more critical resources.
In fact, we’ve been on the cusp of one of these resource wars for years.
You may just not have realized it…
Rare Earth Ruckus
Some of my veteran readers will remember the rare earth ruckus that took place a few years ago that ended in a spectacular price bust.
As you know, rare earth elements (REEs) — which include more than a dozen elements — are critical ingredients to today’s technology. These elements are used anywhere from magnets in wind turbines to the production of electric vehicles and the very smartphone sitting in your pocket.
You may also be aware of China’s utter monopoly of the rare earth market.
Put it this way…
If Saudi Arabia was the undisputed king of oil, then China is in full control of REEs.
Six years ago, China accounted for 97% of the world’s rare earth market; it holds a dominating one-third of global reserves as well.
Not a bad position to be in during a period when technology is growing at an exponential pace.
Yet there’s more to this story than meets the eye.
Have you ever wondered why China is alone at the top of this market?
More important, perhaps, is what it would take for China to lose its position.
That, dear reader, is easy…
It all comes down to North Korea’s fate.
North Korea’s Trump Card is Worth Trillions
“How on earth is North Korea at the center of this mess?” you ask.
Well, it turns out that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has more wealth then it’s letting on…
Estimates peg the value of North Korea’s rare earth resources up to $10 trillion!
Yes, you read that correctly: trillions.
One of the poorest countries on Earth is flush with mineral resources.
And that was back in 2012.
Now, you don’t need me to tell you that tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have been escalating ever since Trump was sworn in as president. The media headlines lately are as bombast as the rhetoric coming out of certain parts of the Trump administration.
Just a few days ago, Kim Jong-un fired a missile that went over Japan.
Taking down his brutal regime and potentially putting those resources onto the open market would be absolutely devastating for China.
It’s a good thing for them they control 90% of North Korea’s trade with the outside world.
Are REEs the new conflict mineral?
If we reach the point of military confrontation between North Korea and the U.S., the game is over for China.
Until next time,