The false monopoly: China and the rare earths trade

Despite the international hair-pulling over the constrained supplies, the rare earth quota crisis and its resolution has laid bare the vulnerability of China’s rare earths ‘monopoly’, as many have described it. After all, there is no shortage of proven rare earth deposits outside of China; the country’s dominance in the market doesn’t come from any physical exclusivity. It comes from the rock-bottom rare earth prices that hit the market because of China’s ability to produce and export these commodities cheaply, due to its highly developed industry and lower labour costs (not to mention lax environmental regulation and a booming cottage industry of illegal rare earth miners and exporters).

Source: The false monopoly: China and the rare earths trade