Concerns are rising over Chinese dominance in the realm of rare earths metals processing. This is a problem that I spend a lot of time never worrying about.
Despite their name, rare earths aren’t all that rare. The byproducts of other metals refining and production (such as lead) and if anything, the production process takes a lot of time and effort. Chinese state policy of subsidizing industry (and caring absolutely not one whit about environmental impacts) allowed the Chinese to become leaders in rare earths metals processing at a truly global scale. And the rest of the world has largely been happy to outsource their needs to subsidized Chinese production.
This isn’t to say that the Chinese couldn’t–and haven’t–attempted some shenanigans. But manufacturing states dependent on Chinese production have been steadily building up strategic reserves, and countries like the United States, Australia, and Malaysia have been increasing investments into processing capacity. There will be a ramp up process, six to twelve months at most. Some supply tightness, but nothing insurmountable. Definitely not something worth keeping you up at night.
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