China and REEstrictions

Rare-earth elements, or REEs, are necessary components for a whole raft of applications, not least electric and hybrid vehicles.

In 1993, 38 per cent of world production of REEs was in China, 33 per cent in the United States, 12 per cent in Australia, and 5 per cent in Malaysia and India.

The remainder comprised several other countries, including Brazil, Canada, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

In 2022, China was the world’s largest producer of rare earth elements, dominating 80% of the global supply.

US Government data confirmed that around 80% of the rare earths imported by the United States come from China.

Although Estonia, France and Japan also supply processed rare earths to the US, the original ore comes from China.

The one rare earth mine operating in the United States sends its ore to China for processing.

It already faces a 25% import tariff imposed by China.

The US has the possibility of supply from Malaysia, but sadly, not in sufficient quantity. In any event, Malaysia is considering ceasing production due to their environmental concerns.

According to UBS Group, Western car production will likely lose a fifth of their global market share to the Chinese car manufacturers.

China has the advantage of lower production costs and prior access to and supply control REEs.

Oh, and by the way, China has previously restricted exports of rare earth elements.

To Japan in 2010 in a dispute over Tokyo’s detention of a Chinese fishing trawler captain.