Author Topic: China and rare earth minerals  (Read 95 times)

adroth

  • Administrator
  • Boffin
  • *****
  • Posts: 8112
    • View Profile
    • The ADROTH Project
China and rare earth minerals
« on: June 11, 2019, 06:18:05 AM »
Explainer: U.S. dependence on China's rare earth - Trade war vulnerability
6 MIN READ

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china-rareearth-explainer/explainer-u-s-dependence-on-chinas-rare-earth-trade-war-vulnerability-idUSKCN1T42RP

(Reuters) - Rare earth elements are used in a wide range of consumer products, from iPhones to electric car motors, as well as military jet engines, satellites and lasers.

< Edited >

China supplied 80% of the rare earths imported by the United States from 2014 to 2017.

China is home to at least 85% of the world’s capacity to process rare earth ores into material manufacturers can use, according to research firm Adamas Intelligence.

It would take years to build enough processing plants to match China’s processing capacity of 220,000 tonnes- which is five times the combined capacity of the rest of the world.

Alternative processing plants would struggle to compete with China’s low costs in the future, should trade tensions abate.

< Edited >

The United States imported $160 million of rare earth compounds and metals in 2018, up nearly 17% from 2017. Around 60% of it was used in catalysts for oil refining and in vehicle engines.

WHAT ARE RARE EARTHS AND WHERE DO THEY OCCUR?

Rare earth metals are a group of 17 elements - lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, lutetium, scandium, yttrium - that appear in low concentrations in the ground.

Although they are more abundant than their name implies, they are costly to process.

Importers made limited efforts to reduce rare earth consumption and dependence on China after a diplomatic dispute between China and Japan in 2010. Japan accused China of halting rare earth supplies for political reasons, sparking recognition worldwide of the risks of dependence on one supplier. China denied it had halted supplies.

California’s Mountain Pass mine is the only operating U.S. rare earths facility. But MP Materials, owner of Mountain Pass, ships the roughly 50,000 tonnes of rare earth concentrate it extracts each year from California to China for processing. China has imposed a tariff of 25% on those imports during the trade war.

Australia’s Lynas Corporation Ltd in May said it signed a memorandum of understanding with Texas-based Blue Line Corp to build a rare earth processing facility in the United States.

Rare earths are also mined in Australia, Brazil, India, Russia and Vietnam.

< Edited >