U.S. Faces Uphill Climb to Rival China’s Rare-Earth Magnet Industry – by Alistair MacDonald (Wall Street Journal – April 11, 2021)


West lags China on both supply and processing of materials key to electric cars and wind turbines

Businesses and governments across the West are gearing up to counter China’s dominance in a key component of modern technology: the magnet.

But the dozens of companies jostling for government support will struggle to establish a supply chain to rival China’s rare-earth magnet industry, which has a decadeslong head start and steadfast state support, analysts and executives say.

Powerful magnets made of rare-earth minerals are essential components in electric-vehicle motors, wind turbines and other technology. China mines over 70% of the world’s rare earths and is responsible for 90% of the complex process of turning them into magnets, analysts say. That dominance gives Beijing sway over makers of various fast-growing technologies.

The U.S. government is investing tens of millions of dollars in efforts to mine and process rare earths. President Biden in February signed an executive order directing a review of supply chains for critical materials, including rare earths.
His recent infrastructure plan also pledged investment in rare-earth separation projects. Officials in Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia are getting their checkbooks out too.

For the rest of this article: https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-faces-uphill-climb-to-rival-chinas-rare-earth-magnet-industry-11618133603