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An in-depth insight into rare earth metals market: Unveiling the influence of China’s monopoly on market trends and the efforts undertaken globally to eliminate the environmental impact of rare earth mining

In the past half a decade, global rare earth metals market has been witnessing a turbulent state of affairs, with costs of rare earths going through the roof. An instance of the turmoil in this space can be aptly credited to China’s monopoly in rare earth production. Though short-lived, China’s extensive reduction of export quotas of rare earth metals (REMs) a few years earlier, had sent ripples of panic across the globe that eventually called for developing mines outside China, a hostile superpower in global rare earth metals market. According to reports, China plays host to about a third of the world’s documented rare earth reserves, with 70% of the worldwide light rare earth metals (REMs) coming solely from the Bayan Obo mining deposit in Inner Mongolia. The overwhelming presence of China in the global rare earth metals industry share, clearly depicts the country’s considerable influence over the business – a fact that has encouraged many international users to look for secondary options than completely relying on China’s low-priced rare earths, especially the US military. For the record, U.S. military technologies, right from bomb manufacturing to missile guidance systems are heavily dependent upon rare earth metals supplied by China, consequently emerging as one of the biggest victims of China’s monopoly. It has been reported that, to make U.S. completely independent of the rare earths supply chain, it could take at least 15 years to wean the country off the foreign dependency. However, several experts speculate China’s monopoly to be precisely contestable, as the rest of the world is aggressively rolling up its sleeves and ramping up production in an attempt to diversify the supply chain portfolio.

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