EPRS Admin By / July 18, 2013

Share of global Rare Earth Eelement production by country, 2011-2012

Share of global Rare Earth Eelement production by country, 2011-2012

Share of global Rare Earth Eelement production by country, 2011-2012

Reserves of rare earth elements are, as is their mining, unevenly distributed across the world. China has about 50% of known world reserves. However, its share in REE production has been declining since 2010, and that trend is expected to continue. Despite the drop, China still holds a virtual monopoly on rare earths. The available stock of rare earth minerals lags behind global demand, which is expected to outpace Chinese supply capacities if current trends continue. Production and supply from the rest of the world should increase further in coming years.
The US, Australia and India increased their production capacity in 2012 to 13% (USGS 2013), bringing China’s share down from 98% to 86%. In particular, the US is currently seeking to boost its REE mining production. It will do so partly by reopening mines that were abandoned in the 1990s, as they had become economically unviable when China’s REE mining boom started.
Outside the US, exploration to develop mines has also started in Africa (South Africa, Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique and Tanzania), Canada, Vietnam, Turkey and Greenland. However, the effects will only be felt in the medium term, as it takes on average 10-15 years until a newly developed mine can be commercially exploited.
There are, for the moment, no REE mining activities in the EU.


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