Rare earth elements: why there is no green future without China

Authors: Per Kalvig & Hans Lucht | Danish Institute for International Studies | February 2021

Rare earth elements (REEs) are vital for communications, the green energy transition and defence – and are produced almost exclusively in China.

In a new policy brief published in February 2021, the authors set out the issues around the production and use of rare earth elements, explaining what they are, why they are critical to many technologies – and how China came to be the world’s leading REE producer, and the main holder of REE expertise, IP rights and production facilities.

Critically, the brief explains why despite bringing new sources of REE on line, such as the mines in Greenland, it will be very difficult to challenge China’s dominance of the global REE market.

Read the full policy brief (external link to Danish Institute for International Studies).

Mike Scrafton wrote about this issue in December 2020: The Indo-Pacific is a distraction: economics not geography is the strategic arena