Duncan business tour lands at Easley’s Palmetto Plating
By D.C. Moody
Congressman Jeff Duncan made several stops around the upstate April 23, including Palmetto Plating in Easley as part of a business tour of his district and the discussions led to international affairs.
The international community is having an impact on Palmetto Plating, prompting the global marketplace discussion.
“We are relying on the Chinese, who are gobbling up rare earth minerals all over the world and that’s a future problem for manufacturing in this country,” Duncan said. “We are going to be relying on those overseas supplies and government policies that hamper or restrict access to the same minerals in the United States.
“Palmetto Plating is just one example of an American business affected by foreign interests and governmental restrictions domestically.
Nickel is a common material used by Palmetto Plating in its everyday business, purchased in 551 pound barrels. Recently the cost of nickel per pound increased $2.49 in a single two week period, driving down the bottom line of the business as the increased cost cannot be passed through to their customer base. The material is imported from Canada, South America, or Russia.
Stainless steel pipe, one market Palmetto Plating is involved in, is an example of the cost of rare earth elements purchased under this system. Eighty percent of the cost for stainless steel piping is related to the cost of nickel alone.
“We’ve been talking about what China is doing in the Foreign Affairs Committee meetings and what we are seeing is China come into other countries and create joint ventures or buy up all the mineral rights,” Duncan explained. “They (China) have been doing this a long time, it’s just now coming onto the radar over the last five or six years. They’ve already secured a lot of these rights and now are going after oil and gas and the Western world is beginning to wake up.”
Duncan has long been a proponent of investigating options domestically where energy and resources are concerned, and sees the future as cloudy at best if this trend continues.
“It may come down in the future to access. If China, using them as an example as they are gobbling up mineral rights all over the world already, continues to do what they’ve been doing, they’ll control the market,” Duncan said. “That means they’ll control the United States’ access to raw materials and the ability to manufacture goods domestically, especially if we don’t have access to our own plentiful resources.”
“We as a country have to recognize our energy problems and begin addressing them,” Duncan said. “Once we begin to do away with energy and raw material dependence on foreign countries, using our own resources instead, there will be a change.”