Here's why the iPad is made in China

Here's why the iPad is made in China
There’s a couple of reasons why most major consumer electronics are manufactured in China. Yes, it’s all about economy and cutting cost as much as possible, but for some gadgets like the iPad, it’s not just about cheap labor and loose governmental regulations. Interestingly, the main reason why the iPad is made in China is... rare earth metals.

China has taken over the production of rare earth metals, and now accounts for 95% of the world’s manufacturing of such metals. That’s quite interesting as the country has only 37% of the proven resources, and is also actively protecting exports of rare earth metals, which basically makes it close to impossible to manufacture gadgets like the iPad outside China. Most recently, Nokia announced it’s moving its manufacturing from Europe and into Asia, in a move urged by those very same materials there.

So what rare earth metals exactly go into an iPad, for example? Cambridge engineering professor Dr. Tim Coombs suggests the iPad’s battery may rely on lanthanum, but there could also be a “range of rare earths” in the display of the iPad, responsible for its color reproduction. The magnets on the side of the tablet are also neodymium alloy.

Question arises whether the US does something to stop that near monopoly and there’s a positive answer. President Obama has complained to the World Trade Organization over China’s rare earths policy. But in the meantime, chances are that even more manufacturing plants will continue being built in China.

source: iFixit

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51 Comments

34. atheisticemetic

Posts: 377; Member since: Dec 18, 2011

Chimpokomon!

33. becazican

Posts: 52; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

This article is such bull****, the main reason why ipads are built in china is mainly because of slave labor, period. the u s can provide the rare earth metals but cant provide people who are working 12 hr shifts 7 days a week and living in dormitories while making 12 bucks a day. Apple has turned into one of the worst companies in the world for exploiting human labor. All the electronic companies are right behind them.What suckers we are to suppport them

25. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

What happens when these rare elements go 'extinct'?

16. joeyrushlow

Posts: 8; Member since: Jan 05, 2012

Just to add to this article of everyone worrying about China having a stranglehold on rare earth metals, there is actually a huge manufacturing going on right on the border of CA and NV, they will be able to produce these at supposedly lower cost than China (or at least competitively) and it's a huge operation (enough to supply the US). This old gold mine should be able to get us these supplies at a better price (should also help the price of electronics) and this startup was help funded by the GOVERNMENT (I know, they did something good finally lol). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_Pass_rare_earth_mine =D

18. nak1017

Posts: 328; Member since: Jan 08, 2010

Look up Mount Weld, Kvanefjeld, and Strange Lake There are quite a few places around the world that have some pretty big untapped deposits.

20. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Yep I am glad others keep up with this stuff. +1 for both of you! lol

24. itiswhatitis

Posts: 423; Member since: Jan 23, 2012

Man.. you sure do have lots of knowledge

12. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

The rare earth metals reason may be true, but it's still a BS reason why ALL manufacturing has to be done in China. These companies could outsourses another company to manufacture and ship batteries to the US if they wanted to. These companies are greedy, they can make their products cheaper in China, they make even more money paying pennies to Chinese workers, that's why they do it, Period.

15. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

China has undercut the world market, that is why the production there is at a staggering 97%. Other counties had to stop mining because they couldn't compete with China's dirty tactics. Now countries around the world are calling for China to change their ways, even President Obama has called out China on their practices regarding the rare Earth problem. All major players in the electronics, energy & sciences are forced to deal with China because the biggest deposits in the world are there & because the prices they charge. The cheap labor is just a bonus that China has thrown in there because they want to be the top player in that game. Just like the Middle East is synonymous with oil, China is synonymous with rare Earths, even if it was done in a shady kind of way.

32. QWIKSTRIKE

Posts: 1461; Member since: Mar 09, 2010

China exports rare earth material, but the problem has been that they cut exports to drive prices up. That's it that's all there is to it. You can get rare earths without going to China. SuperAndroid is advocating for Apple with his lips still stuck in SJ's butt. Factually post any fact that says that China does not export Rare Earth, and that manufacturers have to head to china for rare earth. Get a grip. "Exports have been stable. China will continue to export, and will manage rare earths based on WTO rules." "They argue that by limiting exports, China, which produces more than 95% of the world's rare earth metals, has pushed up prices." These two quote's are from an article printed by the BBC, and the first one is from a Chinese official. This supports there is no need to go to China for rare earths because China exports it. The problem is that they have slowed exports to cause the prices for rare earths to make a profit....quite the capitalist aren't they.

49. juneminuse

Posts: 6; Member since: Apr 24, 2012

You can't get the type of cheap labor in CHINA that you can elsewhere when this all started. China not only had the population for the labor demand they also had the level of education required for the level of work that are required of them. Try to go to Africa and find cheap labor that consists of people with higher than 80 IQ, good luck... the fact is we were there for cheap labor in the first place, long before iPads or apple or consumer electronics. Apple is a company that cares about profit and TRUST me and EVERYONE ELSE that is posting on your article that CHEAP LABOR is the MAIN REASON apple outsources to FOXCONN. =]

8. MYTHiKAL unregistered

The article does not state that ONLY china has them.. It just says, that China has a huge % of it.. and basically that they are the ones that are taking advantage of this and mining the heck out of them.. the US also has a huge percentage of it,, but like everything else, the US will not get deep into mining until everyone else is out of their resources.. LOL

9. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Yes and no. The U.S. does have these rare Earth metals/minerals but not nearly as much as China does. It's understood throughout the world that China has the most of these elements. The U.S. is going to the Moon in 2020 to start to set up a Lunar base so they can take off to Mars (for exploration/mining purposes) from there, instead of Earth & to mine the Moon for these rare Earth metals/minerals that we are going to need. The Moon is going change drastically in the next 20 years or so.

10. nak1017

Posts: 328; Member since: Jan 08, 2010

No, MYTHiKAL is right. China only accounts for around 30-40% of the worldwide mineral distribution, but they flooded the market with cheap magnets and parts so they now represent 95% of the market. Australia, Greenland and, yes, even the US aren't hurting for elements either. The problem is getting to them cheaply and without messing up the environment badly in the process...

13. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

I finally found some numbers to back my information. Here is a list of countries with their RESERVES of "t REO" (t REO = metric tonnes of rare earth oxide) United States: 13,000,000 Australia: 5,400,000 Brazil: 48,000 China: 36,000,000 CIS: 19,000,000 India: 3,100,000 Malaysia: 30,000 Other countries: 22,000,000 Source: Mineral Commodities Summary 2010, U.S. Geological Survey (t REO = metric tonnes of rare earth oxide) That was as of 2010. Now they are saying that China is up past the 50,000,000 in reserves as of today. So you can see China has the most in the world in reserves just waiting, not to mention what they have already mined since 2001. You are right about the environment but the fact is China has had & has the most. The United States doesn't have nearly as much as China, why do you think they are going into the extreme of planning to go to the Moon in 2020? They have just found (well in 2011) a HUGE deposit of rare Earths in Afghanistan. They said there is enough to supply the WHOLE world for over 10 years. Reserves link: http://www.wikinvest.com/concept/China's_Rare_Earth_Dominance Afghanistan link: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=afghanistan-holds-enormous-bounty-of-rare-earths

17. nak1017

Posts: 328; Member since: Jan 08, 2010

According to the wikinvest article you posted, I was dead on with the 30-40% figure... so how am I wrong again? We're talking about maintaining a monopoly, not who has the biggest pile of special sand. Also, do you have an article or something on this moon mining thing? It doesn't seem reasonably feasible in the next 8 years considering how much work it is just to maintain satellites...

19. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Umm I never spoke of monopoly ever. You are confusing me with someone else. The fact is that China is the world’s leader in rare Earths reserves by a long shot. With out the "biggest pile of sand" our arguement doesn't even matter. The world is in China for that "biggest pile of special sand" you talk of. No one said you were wrong. About the Moon, this is an official NASA document from their website as of 2009 check this out: http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/368984main_Every_ones_going_to_the_Moon.pdf

23. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

We just don't have satellites in space, we have a full blown Space Station. Remember we went to the Moon in 1969 with primitive computers. Today’s cheapo scientific calculator has more computing power than what they used in 1969. With today's technology not to mentions 8 years from now tech we can easily go back to the Moon & even start to build a colony there.

5. darktranquillity

Posts: 285; Member since: Feb 28, 2012

You don have to go read all these. Cheap labour, you can make them work 24*7 for pennies and the Peoples Democracy wont give a crap about it. Simple as that.

7. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

You can get cheap labor anywhere. You can't get these rare Earth metals/minerals anywhere but China. That is the real and only reason electronics are made in China. It just happens to also have cheap labor all at the same time. If these rare Earth metals/minerals were more abundant we would not be feeding a communist country with money. We most definitely would be elsewhere that is not communist. Say India for example or maybe Brazil, it’s just that these elements are almost 100% exclusive to China!

43. miles16852

Posts: 241; Member since: Oct 20, 2011

BULL! you CANNOT get cheap labor just ANYWHERE! Please come back to earth and stop your moon minning for rare moon metals!

46. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Are you stupid, you can go to Africa, South America, there are so many places they can go. They only reason we are in China is because of the laws China has set up & their huge reserves of the rare Earths. China is making money on the rare Earths & the factories they are opening to refine & manufacture. Guy you have no idea what you are talking about. China is communist they CONTROL EVERYTHING. That is how communism works. Educate yourself!

48. juneminuse

Posts: 6; Member since: Apr 24, 2012

You can't get the type of cheap labor in CHINA that you can elsewhere when this all started. China not only had the population for the labor demand they also had the level of education required for the level of work that are required of them. Try to go to Africa and find cheap labor that consists of people with higher than 80 IQ, good luck... the fact is we were there for cheap labor in the first place, long before iPads or apple or consumer electronics. Apple is a company that cares about profit and TRUST me and EVERYONE ELSE that is posting on your article that CHEAP LABOR is the MAIN REASON apple outsources to FOXCONN. =]

50. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

You are 100% wrong. By you assuming that these Chinese workers have an IQ higher than 80 makes you completely delusional. The people that are working at these Foxconn factories you are talking about at the lowest of the low in Chinese society. Anyone with a half way decent education ARE NOT working at Foxxconn. You my friend are 100% wrong. China has too many people to take care of because they are the most populous country. Their best they use anyone else has to do the crummy jobs like Foxconn for instance. The rare Earths are the only reason we are there. China only exports to places they deem fit & can control. China is communist & wants TOTAL control of every aspect of the rare Earths business. Cheap labor is elsewhere. To install the same piece in an assembly line 3000 or more times a day can be done with the dumbest non educated persons in the world. China is not the only country full of cheap labor, there is cheaper out there believe it or not.

51. juneminuse

Posts: 6; Member since: Apr 24, 2012

I'm not saying that Chinese people are smarter than Africans or South Americans. I'm just stating that there a bigger population of more adequate workers for what high-tech industries need right now. Yes there are assembly lines and no it does not take a genius to do most of the work. But there is not better cheap work force in the work right now. Try running a factory in Mexico and see where the difference lies.

47. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Ohh & here is a link about the space mining: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/money/asteroid-mining-venture-backed-google-execs-james-cameron-unveiled-article-1.1066510 This was straight from today 04/24/12. lol You need to educate yourself my man!

3. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Yes that is a huge problem. That is why most electronics are made in China. We need to start to recycle these rare Earth metals/minerals because we are starting to run out. They say that there are huge deposits of these rare Earth metals/minerals on the Moon. That is why by 2020 we are going to go back to the Moon. We are in the early stages of planning to mine the Moon for these rare Earth metals/minerals! Without these rare Earth metals/minerals the computer/HD TV industry wouldn't be where it is right now. People don't know how much we really depend on these rare Earth metals/minerals! I am so glad PhoneArena.com had this article. It brings to light why we ARE actually in China & the problem the computer, & HD TV businesses are facing in the near future if we can’t solve this rare Earth metals/minerals problem.

4. troutsy

Posts: 384; Member since: Feb 17, 2012

Correction--On the moon they're just called Common Moon Metals?

6. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Ok I tried to look up the term “Common Moon Metals” & I can’t find anything. All I see is rare Earth Metals/minerals. There are 17 rare Earth metals/minerals. We are really going to the Moon to mine these rare Earth metals/minerals, the term you stated I just can’t find even in Google. If you really want to be technical the rare Earth metals/minerals are really called: 1) Scandium (Sc) 2) Yttrium (Y) 3) Lanthanum (La) 4) Cerium (Ce) 5) Praseodymium (Pr) 6) Neodymium (Nd) 7) Promethium (Pm) 8) Samarium (Sm) 9) Europium (Eu) 10) Gadolinium (Gd) 11) Terbium (Tb) 12) Dysprosium (Dy) 13) Holmium (Ho) 14) Erbium (Er) 15) Thulium (Tm) 16) Ytterbium (Yb) 17) Lutetium (Lu) These are used for multiple purposes, from memory for computers, high temperature superconductors, microwaves, camera lenses, magnets, carbon arc lighting, nuclear batteries, x-ray tubes, MRI contrast agents, neutron capture, to even lasers. There are so many more but I listed just some of the more common ones if you will.

11. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

Its called a joke.

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