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Rare earths: responding to China’s monopoly

  • January 2014
  • -
  • MarketLine
  • -
  • 19 pages

Introduction

Rare earth metals are vital raw materials in many high-tech applications. China currently supplies more than 85% of all rare earths used globally, but is beginning to restrict supply. This will raise prices for importing countries, while China will be able to use its domestic supply in higher-value manufacturing. This report looks at China’s rare earth strategy, and the world's response.

Features and benefits

* Discover why rare earths are vital for high-tech manufacturing
* Find out how China exploited its large rare earth mineral reserves to achieve global dominance of their supply
* Learn about the ways other countries are responding.

Highlights

Rare earth metals are a group of chemical elements that are vital in applications such as strong, miniature magnets, display screens, and catalysis. They currently have few effective substitutes.
China holds 48% of the world’s currently-known reserves, but from the mid-1980s has risen to the position of monopoly supplier, accounting for 95% of all rare earth production in 2011.
There has been a flurry of exploration activity, which is likely to see Canada, the US, and other countries becoming more significant rare earth producers over the next decade.

Your key questions answered

* What are rare earths and why are they important?
* What is China's share of the global rare earth market?
* How have rare earth prices been affected by China's industrial and trade policies?
* Will China retain its dominance, or will counter-strategies by other countries be effective?

Table Of Contents

Rare earths: responding to China’s monopoly
O VERVIEW
Catalyst
Summary
CHINA HAS A MONOPOLY ON RARE EARTHS
RE metals are important for high-tech manufacturing
Rare earth metals are vital in many high-value technology products
While many are abundant, they are difficult to extract
China is the leading global RE producer
In the 1980s China overtook the US as the leading supplier of REs
Its government nurtured the industry despite poor profitability
China is now imposing more stringent controls
The government is controlling rare earth supply
China is consolidating the industry and gaining price-setting power
Higher-value domestic rare earth use will be increasingly important
BUYERS ARE RESPONDING
Some are exploring the regulatory landscape
Can WTO cases defend against China's top-level strategies?
Joint ventures provide access to Chinese resources - but at a price
Others favor commercial solutions
Mining companies are exploring reserves outside China
Novel materials could act as substitutes for rare earths
CONCLUSIONS
China remains dominant - but for how long?
APPENDIX
Sources
Further Reading
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