Malaysia is getting in on the rare earth’s metal mania and gambling to take China’s stronghold out of the market on this one. There are now exchange traded funds (ETFs) available for investors in this “rare” sector.

As many as 2,500 construction workers are racing to finish the world’s largest refinery for so-called rare earth metals — the first rare earth ore processing plant to be built outside China in nearly three decades. Malaysia is host to this project, and is alongside the world’s most advanced technology companies, to build the plant safely enough to make the local environmental risks worth the promised global rewards, reports Keith Bradsher for The New York Times.

Have investors heard of rare earth metal Scandium? Or checked the microwave for Yttrium? Or asked your doctor if his MRI machine includes Gadolinium? Probably not, says The Atalntic, and as these metals are included in more technologies, there could be pressure on the supply.

Just as demand for rare earth metals is soaring for both American consumers and the defense industry, China has cut back its exports to the rest of the world to meet its own production needs.  [Malaysia ETF: Sustainable Growth?]

Will Malyasia be able to pull off the new processing plant and make up for what China is withholding?  The country is certainly putting itself out there to try.

  • iShares MSCI Malaysia Index Fund (NYSEArca: EWM)
  • Market Vectors Rare Earth/Strategic Metals ETF (NYSEArca: REMX)

For full disclosure Tom Lydon’s clients own EWM.

Tisha Guerrero contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.