How China’s supply of rare minerals, used in products like the iPhone, is causing a headache for Washington – by Matthew Field and James Titcomb (The Daily Telegraph – July 28, 2019)

Among the rocky scrubland of the Clark Mountain range in San Bernardino County in California, MP Material’s Mountain Pass mine has been clunking back into action.

America’s only rare earth metals mine is being brought back into service as the trade war between the US and China rages. The conflict now threatens the supply of key metals that go into wind turbines, electric cars and billions of smartphones. These metals, found in Apple’s iPhone, are increasingly being seen as a clever bargaining chip by China.

Apple’s iPhone has been the powerhouse behind years of world-beating earnings from the California company, and, despite a global slowdown, investors are expecting another strong showing this week.

Analysts have tipped Apple to report sales of more than $53bn (£42bn). A strong showing could help it recapture a valuation above $1 trillion. But its supply chain could be rocked by the ripples of the global trade war.

Its reliance on rare earth elements, a group of 17 elements of the Periodic Table, almost exclusively mined and refined in China, is under enormous scrutiny. The price of rare earth metals such as dysprosium, erbium and neodymium have soared in recent weeks, according to analysts at Mirabaud Securities. The metals have all hit multiyear highs.

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