8 Top Rare Earth-producing Countries

While China may have a stranglehold on the rare earths market, it's not the only country responsible for production.

rare earth producing countries

2016 was not an easy year for the rare earths sector. Prices were hit hard due to excess supply, and some rare earths companies working outside of China continued to have problems.

Case in point: rare earths were not mined in the US at all last year. Molycorp (OTCMKTS:MCPIQ), once North America’s only producer of rare earths, filed for bankruptcy in 2015, and was put on care and maintenance later that year.

But while the US missed out on rare earths production in 2016, other countries did not meet the same fate. Seven countries aside from China produced rare earths last year, according to the most recent data from the the US Geological Survey (USGS), and many believe demand for the metals is set to rise. In fact, the rare earths market is expected to be valued at $9 billion by 2020.

With that in mind, it’s worth being aware of which countries produce the most rare earths. Here’s a look at the eight countries that produced the most rare earths in 2016, as per numbers from the USGS.

1. China

Mine production: 105,000 MT

China has dominated rare earths production for a number of years. In 2016, its production of 105,000 MT was unchanged from the previous year. In the first nine months of the year, the Asian nation exported 32,500 MT of rare earths, up 50 percent from the same period in 2015.

Though it has a key role in the rare earths space, China has long had problems with illegal rare earths mining. Industrial Minerals reported in January 2017 that the country has until April to “crack down on illegal mining.” Inspections are taking place in a number of Chinese provinces, and if they show that a company’s sales and output do not correspond, production will be cut off and quotas will be deducted.

China is expected to put an annual limit on its rare earths production beginning in 2020. Given that the country is the world’s largest supplier of rare earths, that will no doubt significantly impact the industry.

2. Australia

Mine production: 14,000 MT

Rare earths production in Australia has been rising steadily for the last few years. In 2016, its output came in at 14,000 MT compared to 12,000 MT in 2015.

The country holds the fifth-largest known rare earths reserves in the world, but the metals have only been mined in the country since 2007, according to Geoscience Australia. The country is poised to increase output going forward. Australia-based Lynas (ASX:LYC) is currently operating the Mount Weld mine and concentration plant in the country; it also operates a rare earths refining and processing plant in Malaysia.

3. Russia

Mine production: 3,000 MT

Russia’s rare earths production also ramped up in 2016, bolstered by the country’s $1-billion investment into production a few years ago. In 2016, Russia’s rare earths output was 3,000 MT, up from 2,800 MT the year prior.

Despite that bump in production, the Russian government is allegedly “unhappy” with its supply of rare earths. It’s expected that production in Russia will increase over time through the development of pre-existing rare earths fields. The country now accounts for roughly 1 percent of global production.

Rare Earth Market Outlook 2016

A look at rare earths in 2015 and the rare earth market outlook for 2016.

Read the full article!

4. India

Mine production: 1,700 MT

In the fall of 2014, Indian Rare Earths and Toyota Tsusho Exploration entered into an agreement regarding the exploration and production of rare earths via deep sea mining. However, in October 2016, the Economic Times reported that the country is “not realising [the] potential of [its] rare earth industry.” It notes that India has almost 35 percent of the world’s total beach sand mineral deposits, which are significant sources of rare earths.

2016 rare earths production in India was 1,700 MT, unchanged from the previous year.

5. Brazil

Mine production: 1,100 MT

Back in 2012, an $8.4-billion rare earths deposit was discovered in Brazil. So far, it seems little has come of the discovery, though last year rare earths production in the country ramped up to 1,100 MT from 880 MT in 2015.

6. Thailand

Mine production: 800 MT

Thailand raised its production of rare earths from 760 MT in 2015 to 800 MT in 2016. Its rare earths reserves are not currently known, but the country remains a significant producer outside of China.

7. Vietnam

Mine production: 300 MT

Vietnam ramped up its rare earths production from 250 MT in 2015 to 300 MT in 2016. Despite the increase, information on rare earths mining in Vietnam is scarce.

8. Malaysia

Mine production: 300 MT

Malaysia’s production of rare earths dropped from 500 MT in 2015 to 300 MT in 2016.

Malaysia is home to the world’s largest rare earths refinery, the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP). The LAMP facility handles refining duties for Lynas’ mines in Australia. Although political issues delayed the plant’s opening in 2013, the LAMP facility has helped Malaysia become an important player in the rare earths space.

This is an updated version of an article originally published by the Investing News Network on May 2, 2016.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Jocelyn Aspa, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Rare Earth Market Outlook 2016

A look at rare earths in 2015 and the rare earth market outlook for 2016.

Read the full article!


This article is updated each year. Please scroll to the top for the most recent information.

In 2015, most rare earth prices were hit hard. Prices for commonly oversupplied rare earths — such as cerium and lanthanum — were on the downtrend, but the more in-demand phosphor and magnet rare earths were hit hard as well.

That meant a challenging year for rare earth juniors, and for companies targeting rare earth production outside of China in general. Molycorp (OTCMKTS:MCPIQ), once North America’s only producing rare earths miner, filed for bankruptcy protection last summer and shuttered its Mountain Pass operations later in the year. Meanwhile, China remains the world’s top rare earth producing country, responsible for the vast majority of production worldwide.

Still China isn’t the only country producing rare earth elements (REEs) and given the important role of the metals in all aspects of modern technology, it’s worth taking a look at who else is on the list of top producers.

These are the top six rare earth-producing countries based on rare earth production data from 2015, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS):

1. China

Mine Production: 105,000 tons

China dominates rare earth mineral production to such a degree that its export practices were recently challenged by the US European Union and Japan, resulting in a WTO ruling against the country’s rare earth export quotas in 2014.

In the past, China has only exported 31,000 tons of its rare earth production. While the country claimed that the limitation was aimed at environmental protection, the WTO ruled that it represented an unfair export restriction that allowed China to control global rare earth prices.

Still, China continues to stockpile the minerals, and the country is expected to continue to be the world’s largest holder of rare earths well into the future. While China was forced to scrap its rare earth export quotas last year, the country kept internal production quotas, revamped its domestic production tax and axed rare earth export tariffs, which helped to bring rare earth prices down.

Looking ahead, China is expected to put an annual limit on its rare earth production beginning in 2020. As the world’s largest supplier of rare earth, this will no doubt significantly impact the industry.

2. Australia

Mine Production: 10,000 tons

Australia boosted its rare earth production to a whopping 10,000 tons last year, up from just 8,000 tons in 2014. The country is sitting on the world’s third-largest known rare earth reserves. Australian rare earth mining has only been underway since 2007, according to Geoscience Australia, and the country is poised to increase output going forward.

Australia based Lynas Corporation (ASX:LYC) is now the only operating rare earth miner outside of China. It operates the Mt Weld mine and concentration plant in Australia, as well as a rare earth refining and processing plant in Malaysia.

3. United States

Mine Production: 4,100 tons

While US rare earth production has increased over the past decade, its output is still dwarfed by China’s. As mentioned above, Molycorp’s Mountain Pass mine was the only producing rare earth mine in the country, and that was put on care and maintenance in 2015 after the company filed for bankruptcy protection. Overall, the US saw its rare earth production drop from 5,400 tons in 2014 to 4,100 tons in 2015.

4. Russia

Mine Production: 2,500 tons

In 2013, Reuters reported a $1 billion investment into rare earth production. Russia’s Rostec stated at the time that it expected to be able to meet Russian rare earth demand by 2017, and increased production was expected to start by 2015. However, Russian rare earth production stayed flat in 2015 at 2,500 tons.

Rare Earth Market Outlook 2016

A look at rare earths in 2015 and the rare earth market outlook for 2016.

Read the full article!

Russian companies are also targeting new extraction techniques to recover rare earths from uranium ore, according to a report from Russia Beyond the Headlines. Since rare earth elements are difficult to mine and extract from mined material, new processing techniques can have a profound impact on production.

5. Thailand

Mine Production: 1,100 tons

Thailand raised production of rare earth minerals by 300 tons in 2014 to 1,100 tons 2015. Rare earth reserves in the country are not currently known, but the country remains a significant player in the second-tier group of rare earth-producing countries that below China.

6. Malaysia

Mine Production: 200 tons

Malaysia is home to the world’s largest rare earth refinery, Lynas Corporation’s Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP). As mentioned above, the LAMP facility handles refining duties for Lynas’s mines in Australia. Despite political issues that delayed the plant’s opening in 2013, the LAMP facility has helped Malaysia become an important player in the world of rare earth minerals.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time news updates.

This article was originally published on the Investing News Network on May 2, 2016.

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Rare Earth Market Outlook 2016

A look at rare earths in 2015 and the rare earth market outlook for 2016.

Read the full article!

Comments
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