Rare earths include a list of 17 chemical elements. Within the last decade these elements have become extremely sought after. The end uses of rare earths include the production of magnets, batteries, catalysts, displays, and more. Many industries are highly dependent on rare earths as a result of their functionality. Global rare earth element production amounted to an estimated 300,000 metric tons of rare earth oxides in 2022. With the largest known reserves worldwide, it is not surprising that China's rare earth production alone accounted for roughly 70 percent of the total global production in 2022. Canada, Greenland, and Australia are also expected to offer significant sources into the future.
Leading rare earth producing countries: China and the United States
China remains the largest global rare earth producing country after years of having this distinction. The most important provinces for Chinese production are Inner Mongolia and Sichuan. In 2022 the United States was distantly the world's second-largest producer of rare earth elements, having produced some 43,000 metric tons of bastnäsite mineral concentrates in rare earth oxide equivalent, as well as 250 metric tons of rare earth compounds and metals. Nevertheless, the U.S. is also a major importer of rare earths. Nearly three-quarters of all U.S. rare earth imports originated from China as of 2021, while the rest came from Malaysia, Estonia, Japan, and other countries.
Rare earth mining companies
Due to the fact that the Chinese rare earth industry is controlled by the state, there are only a few larger companies from other countries that dominate the market. Among the the best known non-Chinese rare earth companies is Lynas Corporation from Australia. Prior to filing for bankruptcy in June 2015, the United States-based Molycorp was also a leading non-Chinese rare earths company. Other leading companies are Iluka Resources, Galaxy Resources, and Kidman Resources, all headquartered in Australia. With Mountain Pass in California, Molycorp previously held the largest deposit of rare earth elements outside of China. As of June 2017, Mountain Pass sold for 20.5 million U.S. dollars to MP Mine Operations LLC, an American-led consortium that includes the Chinese company Leshan Shenghe Rare Earth Co. as a non-voting minority interest.
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