Rare Earth Elements: The Next Oil

Issue & Policy Briefs October 19, 2011, No. 78

Rare earth elements (REE) are increasingly becoming a critical strategic resource. The 17 elements can be found in most high-tech
gadgets from advanced military technology to mobile phones. China currently holds claim to 95 percent of the world’s production.
Recent Chinese export reductions have forced high-tech firms to relocate to China and forced other governments, particularly in the
developed world, to pour money into their exploration and production. This month Japan’s Trade Minister met with his Chinese
counterpart, at the top of the agenda was REEs. Rare earths are fast becoming “the next oil.”

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