Rare Earths MMI – US Breaking Away From Chinese Rare Earth Elements Supply

The Rare Earths MMI (Monthly MetalMiner Index) declined more sharply in July than in June. Compared to last month’s drop of 0.64%, July’s Rare Earths index dropped a total of 3.80%. Meanwhile, both the US and Europe are frantically searching for new sources of rare earth elements.

Online Influence Group Causes Rare Earth Elements Uproar

This past week, news broke that a Chinese influence group created a smear campaign against Western Rare Earth miners. These influencers, speculated to be a pro-Chinese political group, carried out their campaign on social media. Some experts say this was to lower opinions about US mining corporations in favor of Chinese mining sources. How, exactly? The idea was to get environmentalists angry enough to protest en masse.
Experts also speculate that the same group has been responsible for other online campaigns in the past. Still, their efforts were largely in vain. Even so, it managed to shine a light on the feud between China and its Western adversaries over rare earth resources.

Man looking at a declining graph with chinese flag. Rare earth elements and RE sales
Young businessman looking at a stock market graph with a declining arrow and the chinese flag

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Understanding the US’ Rare Earth Dependence

Near the end of June, another story surfaced detailing how the US is attempting to shake China’s firm grip on the global rare earth supply. It’s no secret to anyone in the metals industry that the battle between China and the US over metal resources has continued for a long time. However, with global supply squeezed from COVID-19 supply chain shortages and the war in Ukraine, the rivalry between the US and China is more intense than ever.
Though China controls most of the global rare earths supply nowadays, that title used to belong to the United States. Unfortunately, China has managed to stamp out almost all other global rare earth competitors.

Over the past 30 years, the US started outsourcing supply more and more. This ultimately created a dependence on China and several other countries for resources that have only gone up in demand. The real question is whether or not this dependence runs deep enough to prevent the US from breaking away from China’s rare earths grip.
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US Finding Alternatives to Chinese Rare Earths

Despite China’s dominance in the global industry, the US has been attempting to find other rare earth sources. In a Reuter’s article posted last week, the US and Europe are collaborating to end their dependence on Chinese and Russian supplies. The article also details how the two world powers are striving to meet demand for rare earths while keeping climate initiatives in mind.
These efforts also strive to bring dependence away from countries of concern like Russia, who’s still invading Ukraine. In short, the US and Europe plan to stick to their guns with Russian sanctions, and this means that new supply sources must be found – and fast. Of course, electric vehicle demand continues to grow worldwide, further complicating supply and demand issues.

However, a light shines at the end of this particular tunnel. The US Department of Defense recently invested heavily in a brand-new plant. This facility will source rare earth minerals from Australia, then import them to the plant for separation. If the US and Europe continue to find alternatives to Chinese and Russian rare earths, the sourcing problem won’t be as horrible as some are anticipating.

rare earth magnets remain a vital resource. Rare earth elements

Indiana’s ARC Bumping up Rare Earth Production

The American Resources Corporation, based out of Fishers, IN, recently put out a press release discussing its brand-new rare earths initiative. The raw materials supplier stated that it would invest US $2 Million into its “reELEMENT” project. The initiative aims to bump up the corporation’s stake in the battery metals and rare earths game. American Resources was traditionally a company that provided raw materials to steel manufacturers. However, it recently branched out into the rare earths market.
If successful, this move could give the US some relief from Chinese rare earth dependence. However, the core issue isn’t the separation and purification of rare earths. Instead, it’s that the US, and other countries, need the raw elements themselves. Of course, COVID-19 restrictions have impacted China heavily in terms of raw resources. Russian, on the other hand, is more of a political problem. And while an initiative like American Resource’s will certainly help, it is more of a “band-aid” than a solution.

New Information Released Regarding Mining Projects in Malawi

Along with China, numerous parts of Africa are known to have abundant rare earth resources. Could this help alleviate the global supply pinch? It’s entirely possible. In fact, Mkangos, a company that scouts out rare earth elements in Africa, recently announced that they made major headway with their Songwe Project. The long-term DFS (definitive feasible study) aims to mine numerous rare earth elements, separate them in Mkangos plants, and nurture Mkangos‘ rare earth magnet recycling interests.
After almost two decades of operation, Mkangos hopes to get the project operational in the very near future. Once the Songwe Project reaches full momentum, it will regularly produce large amounts of neodymium, praseodymium oxides, dysprosium, and terbium oxides. All in all, the project has a rather-optimistic goal of hitting 5,954 tonnes of rare earths per year. Should they realize this, it would go a long way towards alleviating the global rare earths crisis.

Rare Earth Monthly Trends, Facts and Figures

  • Praseodymium oxide took a slight price hit, falling 1.55% to $144,077.16 per metric ton.
  • Dysprosium fell a bit more drastically by 4.85% to $365.62 per kilogram.
  • Chinese neodymium also fell slightly. The price decreased 0.9% to $176,177.25
  • Terbium oxide dropped around the same amount as dysprosium did. There was a 4.14% decrease leaving terbium prices at $2,665.05 per kilogram.

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