Elementi della supremazia attuale e futura della Cina nel mercato delle Terre Rare

No. 41 – April 2015
Authors: Francesco Viglietta
Language: Italian
Rare Earth Elements
China’s supremacy
International trade

Download (PDF) / Scarica (PDF)


This report aims to describe the international market of Rare Earth Elements (REE – seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table) from a Chinese point of view. In fact, the market is mostly dominated by China that has the (almost) monopoly regarding the manufacture of marketable products and a strong national demand. This monopoly in the production and supply of REE is assured to Beijing for at least other five or seven years.  REE are found almost everywhere on the Earth’s crust (although there are particular minerals sought for their high concentration of REE) but they are also much dispersed: usually REE are not as common as other elements used in the industry. The difficulties in the extraction and separation persist today, with financial and technical problems involved. In general, the REE are particularly important because they are used in various sectors: automotive, aeronautics, defense, medical and also for the exploitation of renewable energy, for the energy efficiency and electronics (REE are present in all motherboards of any device – computers, smartphones, washing machines, etc.). After a brief introduction about what REE are and why they are so difficult to obtain (this mostly regard to separation of the elements), this report describes the supply and demand of both China and rest of the world (mainly United States and Australia) and focuses on Chinese strengths and foreign weaknesses.  Moreover, this analysis discusses the elements of a future Chinese success in the international markets: cooperation between national demand and supply oriented to protect national interests; future paths followed by Chinese demand and supply; openness to international trade; creation of vertical integrated societies; attention to environment. Especially the last feature will be increasingly important in order to maintain future dominant positions in the sector of production and supply of REE.