China Is Moving Rapidly Up the Rare Earth Value Chain – by Xianbin Yao (Brink News – August 7, 2022)

China is making an unrelenting effort to integrate and upgrade its rare earth supply chain of upstream mining, processing, manufacturing, and deeper applications. Although it has only about one-third of the world’s rare earth reserves, China now accounts for 60% of global rare earth mined production, 85% of rare earth processing capacity, and over 90% of high-strength rare earth permanent magnets manufactured.

In short, China aims to transform itself from the largest producer and refiner of rare earth elements to being the world’s major high value-add manufacturer of the clean energy products dependent on rare earth metals and other critical minerals.

The Key Ingredient of the New Economy

Rare earth elements form an integral part of the modern global economy. Rare earth elements play a critical role in developing new industries such as wind power generation, fuel cells, hydrogen storage and rechargeable batteries, as well as the permanent magnets used in electric and hybrid-electric vehicles.

They are also used as phosphors in many consumer displays and lighting systems and are vital for many defense technologies, including precision-guided munitions, targeting lasers, communications systems, airframes and aerospace engines, radar systems, optical equipment, sonar, and electronic counter measures.

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