A vast majority of the world’s rare earth metal supply is found under China’s soil, which basically makes the rare earth metals market and exchange traded fund (ETF) dance to the Chinese government’s tune.
What Are the Rare Earth Metals? Rare earth metals include lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, lutetium, and yttrium, with neodymium, dysprosium, terbium and europium having the highest demand, according to Business Insider.
Who Controls the Market? That would be China, which produces more than 95% of global rare earths supply. The country is now imposing export quotas and tariffs on its supplies, which total 89 million tons. That’s bad news for countries like Japan that solely relies on China for its supply.
Still, other countries may fill the supply gap:
- Malaysia sits on a reserve base of 35,000 metric tons
- Brazil has a reserve base of 84,000 tons
- India holds 1.3 million metric tons
- The United States has 14 million metric tons, but no additional mines have been created in recent years
- Canada’s junior minors have been expanding the country’s production of rare earths as more reserves are being discovered
- Chile is considered to be the “Saudi Arabia of Lithium,” with around 27% of the world’s proven reserves, while Bolivia is estimated to have 50% of the world’s lithium
What Are the Uses of Rare Earth Metals? Lithium is a major component in most gadgets and batteries. Rare earth metals are also used in powerful magnets that go in anything from lasers and fluorescent lamps to electric motors and disk drives.