Rare Earth Elements – Recent Developments

In a discovery that might alter the world’s economic infrastructure, a small island off Japan has been found to contains hundreds of years’ worth of rare earth elements used in everything from cellphones to computers to batteries. Read the original paper here.

China has long held the spot as the top producer of these metals, but this find will weaken its stranglehold on the marketplace. China’s Rare-Earth Industry (US Geological Survey Open File Report, 2011) presents a lucid explanation of China’s situation. This 2017 USGS Professional Paper – Critical mineral resources of the United States—Economic and environmental geology and prospects for future supply – reinforces the national security implications for this country not having adequate supplies of these metals.

These CRS reports provide additional information:  China’s Rare Earth Industry and Export Regime: Economic and Trade Implications for the United States (2012); Rare Earth Elements in National Defense: Background, Oversight Issues, and Options for Congress (2013); Rare Earth Elements: The Global Supply Chain (2013); and China’s Mineral Industry and U.S. Access to Strategic and Critical Minerals: Issues for Congress (2015).

This 2015 RAND dissertation – Critical Rare Earths, National Security, and U.S.-China Interactions – has proven useful as well as this 2013 report Critical Materials Present Danger to U.S. Manufacturing.

And don’t forget Mission 2016: The Future of Strategic Natural Resources from MIT.

 

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