Commodities & Metals

China Threatens to Kill Exports of Rare Earth Supply

In the Peoples Daily, a medium controlled by the Chinese government, editors warned that the export of “rare earth elements” could be interrupted. The move was anticipated as part of a trade war between China and the United States.

Geology.com described rare earth elements:

Rare earth elements are a group of seventeen chemical elements that occur together in the periodic table (see image). The group consists of yttrium and the 15 lanthanide elements (lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, and lutetium). Scandium is found in most rare earth element deposits and is sometimes classified as a rare earth element.

They are used in the manufacture of many consumer electronics products. They are also used in military missiles and GPS devices. China produces more rare earth elements than any other nation. It also has the largest reserves by far, followed by Brazil.

The Peoples Daily wrote:

… if anyone wants to use imported rare earths against China, the Chinese people will not agree.

By making unilateral moves to contain technological development of other countries, the United States seems to have overlooked one fact: the international supply chain is so intertwined that no economy could thrive on its own.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, from 2014 to 2017 the United States imported 80 percent of its rare earth compounds and metals from China.

The tension between the two countries has been ratcheted up again.


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