Will Beijing weaponise its rare earth supply in the US-China trade war?

There are 17 rare earth elements listed in the periodic table which, contrary to their name, are as abundant in the Earth’s crust as tin or lead. However, rare earths are always fused with other minerals which makes many countries reluctant to invest in rare earth mines because they are too expensive and polluting to extract and refine in commercially viable quantities


Rare earths are essential to high-tech, renewable-energy, and defence-related technologies. Although China is responsible for 71 per cent of the world’s production, Brazil, Vietnam, Russia, India, Australia and America also have large reserves.


Rare earths are essential components for a wide range of everyday applications including, energy, electronics, smartphones, electric vehicles and wind turbines