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Infographic – China’s Rare Earth Monopoly Slipping

Rare earth production

Click on image for full-size view (Statista)

8 June 2019. It’s been a while since we looked into rare earths, the 17 elements used in the manufacture of electronics, such as smartphones and computers, as well as in magnets and chemical catalysts. These critical materials are not necessarily in short supply, but they’re found in few locations in the world, with China being the largest producer of rare earths.

Our friends at Statista this week reported China remains the largest producer of rare earths, but other countries are developing their sources of these materials, this weekend’s infographic. The data, from the National Minerals Information Center, part of the U.S. Geological Survey, show China is still the dominant producer, but the U.S. and Australia ramped up their production of rare earths since 2010. In addition, Brazil, Vietnam, and Russia have large reserves of rare earths that remain untapped.

The U.S. Department of Energy established its Critical Materials Institute at the Ames National Lab in Iowa, which we reported in January 2013. Much of the institute’s research is for finding alternatives to materials like rare earths subject to supply disruptions. In August 2016, we reported on a new hydrogen storage technology using an alternative to rare earth catalysts to generate and store hydrogen produced from solar energy at a much lower cost.

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