Statistics show that rare earths reserves in China are down to 27 million tons and, at current production rates, may be exhausted as early as 2025. This data underscores the urgency of the rare earths crunch we have been discussing on this blog in recent weeks. Having produced rare earths at rates exceeding 100,000 tons for five consecutive years, China is not only the largest rare earth producer accounting for 97 percent of global output but is also the largest rare earth exporter.
There is much dispute over China’s rare earths reserves, which makes even tighter export restrictions than the ones already imposed by the country a very likely reality. This tightening certainly serves as a catalyst for the current Congressional efforts aimed at ending America’s overreliance on foreign imports of all critical minerals.