HONG KONG — One of the world’s last processors of rare earth metals outside China is buying mining rights in Greenland to reduce dependence on Russian ore and stabilize prices, in the latest move by Western companies to diversify supply chains following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Rare earth metals are essential for the manufacture of a broad range of modern products, including electric car motors, offshore wind turbines and smart bombs. Demand has soared as automakers switch more of their production to electric vehicles.
Dozens of mostly small companies mine rare earth ore around the world and do some initial processing to remove dirt. But only two commercial-scale factories outside China perform the difficult task of chemically separating semi-processed ore into usable material for magnets in electric car motors and other applications.
Toronto-based Neo Performance Materials buys semi-processed ore from Russia, the United States and Australia and does the chemical processes at factories in Estonia and China. Another company, Lynas, mines rare earth metals ore in Australia and does the chemical processes in Malaysia.
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