The Wall Street Journal reported that China will create one of the world’s largest rare-earths companies with the aim of maintaining its dominance in the global supply chain of the strategic metals as tensions deepen with the US.
Citing unnamed “people familiar with the matter”, the WSJ said that the move is expected to be announced this month.
The new firm will be called China Rare Earth Group and will be based in resource-rich Jiangxi province in southern China as soon as this month, the sources said. The new entity would be created by merging rare-earths assets from some state firms, including China Minmetals Corp. , Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. and Ganzhou Rare Earth Group Co.
According to the USGS, global mine production of rare earths was estimated to have increased to 240,000 tons of rare-earth-oxide equivalent in 2020. According to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, China’s mine production quota for 2020 was 140,000 tons (58% of global total), with 120,850 tons allocated to light rare earths and 19,150 tons allocated to ion-adsorption clays.
The 58% share of mining marks a sharp decline from a decade earlier—when China had near total dominance—due to the ramping up of mining efforts in other countries. However, China still maintains a lock on the subsequent refining of mined rare earths, with an 80% global share. I.e., even rare earths mined overseas are sent to China for final processing.