Down nearly 29% this year, it is not a stretch to say the Market Vectors Rare Earth/Strategic Metals ETF (NYSEArca: REMX) has seen better days.

Among the woes REMX has had to contend with this are tumbling commodities prices and the June bankruptcy of Molycorp.

In March, Molycorp warned “may not be able to continue as a going concern,” unless the company restructured debt. The producer revealed that falling prices and production slowdowns have diminished its ability to meet obligations.

Rare earth producers have been weakening after China announced cuts to its export quotas, forcing other countries to build up their own projects.

In 2010, China, the world’s largest producer of rare earths minerals, cut back exports as part of a political dispute with Japan, pushing up prices on rare earths by 40% from the preceding year and raising concern over supply. The announcement helped push up Molycorp and other producers to new highs in the following year. [Supply Risk No Longer Supporting Rare Earth ETF]

However, there are signs the beaten up makers of the metals used in the production of products such as smartphones, tablets and night-vision goggles could see better days ahead.

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