|Rare earths, also known as rare earth metals or rare-earth elements, collectively refers to the lanthanides (a group name that include 15 elements) and closely-related scandium and yttrium. As a crucial strategic resource, it is mainly contained in bastnaesite, xenotime, monazite, allanite, and other minerals. At present, rare-earth resources have been discovered in about 35 countries and regions around the world, with total reserves of 130 million tons, of which 42.3% are owned by China alone. With increasing discoveries around the world, the percentage will decrease in the future.|
In order to protect and rationally develop superior resources, China has adopted a cap-control policy for rare-earth development since 2006 so that the rare earth ore production suffered a continuous decline from 2010 to 2013. In 2014, the State raised the upper limit, a move that helped drive the rare earth output rise 14.5% year on year to 95,000 tons, occupying about 86.4% of the global total.
Besides meeting the domestic demand, China rare earth and its products are also exported to the United States, Europe, Japan, South Korea, etc., with the 2014 export volume of rare earth products reaching about 29,000 tons (rare-earth permanent magnet products 75.5%), accounting for 32.1% of the total output. Despite a steady rise in rare earth product exports over the past two years, the export value, affected by the lower export prices, continued to fall, by 35.7% to USD370 million in 2014.
China rare earth industry has been facing quite a few challenges like low enterprise concentration and scattered layout. In 2014, Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-earth, which represents the largest market share, generated revenue that accounted for a meager 7.1% of the total nationwide. In 2015, the 6 major rare earth companies will implement integration, when the rare earth industry concentration will increase significantly.