Rare earth elements - Statistics & Facts

Rare earths include a list of 17 chemical elements. Within the last decade these elements have become extremely sought after. Many industries are highly dependent on rare earths, using them for the production of magnets, catalyzers, displays, and more. Around 130 thousand metric tons of rare earth oxides were produced worldwide in 2017. With the largest known rare earth reserves worldwide, it is not surprising that China alone produced roughly 80 percent of that total amount. Canada, Greenland, and Australia are also expected to offer significant sources into the future.

China remains the largest global rare earth producer. The most important provinces for Chinese production are Inner Mongolia and Sichuan. With the regulation of its export quotas, China effectively defines the global market and prices for rare earth elements. Over the last decade, Chinese export quotas were constantly decreasing. This is mainly because of the growing domestic demand.

In 2015, the United States was the third-largest producer of rare earth elements worldwide having produced some four thousand metric tons of rare earth oxides. Nevertheless, the U.S. is also a major importer. Some 75 percent of all U.S. rare earth imports originate from China, while the rest comes from France, Japan, and other countries.

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 a leading non-Chinese rare earths company. Other leading companies are Iluka Resources, Galaxy Resources, and Kidman Resources, all from Australia. With Mountain Pass in California, Molycorp formerly 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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Rare earths

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