Chinese Monopoly in Rare Earth Elements: Supply-Demand and Industrial Applications

China Report, Vol 48, No. 4, December  2012, Sage Publications

Nabeel Mancheri, Assistant Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore

china reportThe concentration of rare earth elements (REEs) production in China raises the vital issue of supply susceptibility. Until recently, the global dependency on China for rare earths was a well-kept secret. But word started to spread fast after Beijing cut export quotas by 70 per cent for the second half of 2010, sending prices of some oxides—the purified form of rare earth elements sky-rocketing. This article seeks to evaluate what rare earth elements are and explores China’s role in the global supply-demand equations. It also explores the history of rare earth elements and China’s current monopoly over the industry, including possible repercussions if rare earth elements supply were to be disrupted.

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