Breaking China’s Stranglehold on the U.S. Rare Earth Elements Supply Chain

Related Categories: International Economics and Trade; Science and Technology; Resource Security; North America; China

In historical terms, the United States has been caught off guard by China’s dominance of the rare earth industry. Over the years, the U.S. has become dependent on a potential adversary for some of the most crucial materials in high technology production: rare earth elements. Rare earths are a collection of 17 elements that include: scandium, yttrium, lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, and lutetium. These elements may one day soon become as essential to the U.S. as oil. They are important in producing a range of technological products, including cellular telephones, computer hard drives, and medical imaging equipment, as well as green technology like electric vehicle motors and wind turbines. In scientific circles in China, rare earth materials are considered a “trump card” of national policy due to the country’s dominance in industrial production...

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