10 Top Countries for Rare Earth Metal Production

China is the largest country for rare earth metal production by far, but what are the other top nations? Find out here.

Rare earth metal production was on the rise again in 2020, jumping to 240,000 metric tons (MT) worldwide — that’s up from 220,000 MT in 2019 and 190,000 MT in 2018.

Demand for the metals is increasing as renewable energy becomes more important across the globe. Rare earths like neodymium and praseodymium, which are important in clean energy applications and high-tech industries, are in the spotlight, particularly as electric vehicles and hybrid cars gain popularity.

Other factors, like the ongoing tensions between the US and China, are also putting the spotlight on rare earths. Since China is the world’s largest producer of the materials by far, the fraught relationship between the countries is directing attention to supply chain issues in the rare earths industry.

With that in mind, it’s worth being aware of rare earth metal production numbers. Here’s a look at the 10 countries that mined the most rare earths in 2020, as per the latest data from US Geological Survey.

1. China

Mine production: 140,000 MT

As mentioned, China has dominated rare earths production for a number of years. In 2020, its domestic output of 140,000 MT was up from 132,000 MT the previous year.

Chinese producers must adhere to a quota system for rare earths production. The half-year quota for rare earth mining in 2021 is set at 84,000 tonnes (up 27.2 percent from the previous year), while the quota for smelting and separation is 81,000 tonnes (up 27.6 percent from the previous year). Interestingly, this system led China to become the world’s top importer of rare earths in 2018.

The quota system is a response to China’s longstanding problems with illegal rare earths mining. Over the last decade, the country has taken steps to clean up its act, including shutting illegal or environmentally non-compliant rare earth mines, and limiting production and rare earth exports.

Currently, six state-owned miners are in charge of China’srare earth industry, in theory allowing China to keep a strong handle on production. However, illegal rare earth extraction remains a challenge, and the Chinese government continues to take steps to curb this activity.

2. United States

Mine production: 38,000 MT

The US produced 38,000 MT of rare earths in 2020, up from 28,000 MT the previous year.

Rare earths supply in the US currently comes only from the Mountain Pass mine in California, which went back into production in Q1 2018 after being put on care and maintenance in Q4 2015. It was run by Molycorp before it went bankrupt and then was bought by MP Mine Operation, now MP Materials.

The US is a major importer of rare earth materials, with demand for compounds and metals worth US$110 million in 2020; that’s down from US$160 million in 2019. The country has classified rare earths as critical minerals, a distinction that has come to the fore due to trade issues between the US and China.

3. Myanmar (also known as Burma)

Mine production: 30,000 MT

Myanmar mined 30,000 MT of rare earths in 2020, up from 22,000 MT the previous year.

Little information is available about the country’s rare earth mineral deposits and mining projects, but the nation does have a close relationship with China — in 2020, Myanmar provided 50 percent of China’s medium to heavy rare earths feedstock. Myanmar’s military coup in 2021 has raised concerns that those rare earths imports may be cut off, but as of early March there had been no trade disruptions.

4. Australia

Mine production: 17,000 MT

Rare earths production in Australia has been rising steadily for the last few years. However, in 2020, its output dropped to 17,000 MT from 20,000 MT in 2019.

The country holds the sixth largest-known rare earths reserves in the world, and is poised to increase its output. Australia-based Lynas (ASX:LYC,OTC Pink:LYSCF) operates the Mount Weld mine and concentration plant in the country, and it recently announced plans to boost production to 10,500 tonnes per year of neodymium-praseodymium products by 2025.

Northern Minerals (ASX:NTU) opened Australia’s first heavy rare earths mine in 2018. Its main products are terbium and dysprosium, the latter of which is used in technology such as permanent magnets.

5. Madagascar

Mine production: 8,000 MT

Madagascar recorded rare earths extraction of 8,000 MT in 2020, double that of the year before. It holds the Tantalus rare earth project, which is said to contain 562,000 tonnes of rare earth oxides.

6. India

Mine production: 3,000 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.

Despite this deal, India’s rare earths production industry is far below its potential. The country holds almost 35 percent of the world’s total beach sand mineral deposits, which are significant sources of rare earths, but 2020 production in India was just 3,000 MT, up only 100 MT from the previous year.

7. Russia

Mine production: 2,700 MT

Russia produced 2,700 MT of rare earths in 2020, the same level as the previous two years. The country’s government is allegedly “unhappy” with its supply of rare earths. Russia is reportedly reducing mining taxes and offering discounted loans to investors in 11 projects intended to increase the nation’s share of global rare earths production from the current 1.3 percent to 10 percent by 2030.

8. Thailand

Mine production: 2,000 MT

Thailand’s rare earths production increased to 2,000 MT in 2020, up from 1,900 MT in 2019 and 1,000 MT in 2018. Its rare earths reserves are not currently known, but the country remains a top 10 producer of rare earth metals outside of China.

9. Vietnam

Mine production: 1,000 MT

Vietnam’s rare earths production fell from 1,300 MT in 2019 to 1,000 MT in 2020. Its output for the year was on par with rare earth production in Brazil, meaning the two are actually tied for ninth place.

The country reportedly hosts several rare earth materials deposits with concentrations against its northwestern border with China and along its eastern coastline. Vietnam is interested in building its clean energy capacity, including solar panels, and is said to be looking to produce more rare earths for its supply chain for that reason.

10. Brazil

Mine production: 1,000 MT

Back in 2012, a US$8.4 billion rare earths deposit was discovered in Brazil. So far, it seems little energy has been put into the discovery — although in 2020 rare earth tonnes mined in the country increased a little, rising from 710 MT in 2019 to 1,000 MT in 2020.

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

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

Featured
Ucore conducted Bokan field mapping work in September 2021Ucore to conduct the Bokan channel and bulk sampling program during the Summer 2022 field seasonAll required state and federal permits are now in hand for the Summer 2022 field seasonUcore Rare Metals Inc. is pleased to announce that on November 10, 2021, the United States Department of Agriculture's Forest Service issued a 1-year authorization for Ucore to ...
  • Ucore conducted Bokan field mapping work in September 2021
  • Ucore to conduct the Bokan channel and bulk sampling program during the Summer 2022 field season
  • All required state and federal permits are now in hand for the Summer 2022 field season

Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSXV: UCU) (OTCQX: UURAF) ("Ucore" or the "Company") is pleased to announce that on November 10, 2021, the United States Department of Agriculture's Forest Service (the "USFS") issued a 1-year authorization for Ucore to commence with the Dotson Ridge 2021 Surface Exploration Project Plan of Operations (the "Project"). The Company has elected to conduct the sampling work during next summer's field season and now has all required state and federal Project permits for this work.

On May 12, 2021, Ucore announced the Project to upgrade its Bokan-Dotson Ridge heavy rare earth element ("HREE") mineral resource, disclosed in accordance with National Instrument 43-101 ("NI 43-101"), with a budget of approximately $400,000. The Project is expected to result in converting approximately 17-20% of the mineral resource to a new Measured mineral resource category; with over 90% of the new Measured material being drawn from currently Indicated mineral resource material and 10% from currently Inferred mineral resource material. This will be accomplished through the execution of approximately 50 additional channel samplings along the ≈2 km of exposed vein outcroppings of the Dotson Ridge Zone. Secondly, the Company will conduct bulk sampling activities to obtain ≈50 tonnes of additional mineralized material to facilitate prospective pilot-scale testing of its metallurgical recovery methods currently under laboratory-scale finalization at SGS Canada's Lakefield facility.

In September 2021, Ucore's COO, Mike Schrider, and Aurora Geosciences' General Manager, Alaska, Jim Robinson, P.Geo., conducted field mapping work to physically identify the two bulk sample areas and to coordinate next summer's field activities. Both of these activities are to ready the Company to conduct a Pre-Feasibility Study ("PFS") and/or a Feasibility Study ("FS") in the near future as the REO market continues to indicate a steady increase in response to the advent of the global adoption of electric vehicles ("EVs").

The Bokan Mountain Complex has approximately nine different historical REE mineralization zones[i] but only one of these, the Bokan-Dotson Ridge Zone, has been the focus of Ucore's rare earth mineral resource development. The Bokan-Dotson Ridge mineral resource remains open down-dip and along strike. After the Summer 2022 fieldwork is completed, the Company intends to conduct any additional exploration activities concurrently with prospective mine development activities.

Cannot view this image? Visit: https://orders.newsfilecorp.com/files/1119/103904_d3bee94b542a380e_001.jpg

Figure 1- Bulk Sampling Marking of REE Vein Outcroppings at Bokan-Dotson Ridge, September 22, 2021

To view an enhanced version of Figure 1, please visit:
https://orders.newsfilecorp.com/files/1119/103904_d3bee94b542a380e_001full.jpg

"The long-term development of Bokan is a fundamental tenet of our Alaska 2023 Plan, and Ucore is committed to the establishment of a heavy rare earth element mineral reserve and eventual mine at the Bokan-Dotson Ridge project," said Ucore VP & COO, Mike Schrider, P.E. "While we have the long-term development of the Bokan Mountain Complex in our sights, we are also committed to the near-term development of a comprehensive US-centric rare earth element supply chain. In our view, this starts with the development of the environmentally sound and technologically efficient Alaska Strategic Metals Complex ["SMC"] rare earth processing facility based on RapidSX™ separation technology. And the concurrent development of the accompanying infrastructure required to support the upstream and downstream elements of this emerging supply chain through the association of key industry suppliers, partners, and customers."

The advancements at Bokan are just one of many steps in the development of the ALASKA2023 Plan that Ucore is currently progressing, including:

  • Through its wholly owned subsidiary Innovation Metals Corp. ("IMC"), commercial demonstration and deployment of the RapidSX™ separation technology platform
  • Securing third-party allied-sourced feedstock for the Alaska SMC (see Ucore's October 19, 2021, news release regarding the MOU with Vital Metals)
  • Engineering planning for the Alaska SMC REE separation & purification plant founded on modern RapidSX™ technology
  • Securing offtake agreements for the sale of rare earth oxides
  • Forming strategic alliances for the production of rare earth metals and oxides
  • Working with prospective partners for various sources of project funding:
  • Engineering and testing for the Bokan-Dotson Ridge Zone mill flowsheet
  • Community and stakeholder engagement to ensure prudent environmental, social and corporate governance ("ESG") activities

###

About Ucore Rare Metals Inc.

Ucore is focused on rare- and critical-metals resources, extraction, beneficiation, and separation technologies with the potential for production, growth, and scalability. Ucore has a 100% ownership stake in the Bokan-Dotson Ridge Rare Earth Element Project in Southeast Alaska, USA. Ucore's vision and plan is to become a leading advanced technology company, providing best-in-class metal separation products and services to the mining and mineral extraction industry.

Through strategic partnerships, Ucore's vision includes disrupting the People's Republic of China's ("PRC") control of the US REE supply chain through the development of a heavy rare-earth processing facility - the Alaska Strategic Metals Complex in Southeast Alaska and the long-term development of Ucore's heavy rare earth element mineral resource property located at Bokan Mountain on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska.

Ucore is listed on the TSXV under the trading symbol "UCU" and in the United States on the OTC Markets' OTCQX® Best Market under the ticker symbol "UURAF".

For further information, please visit www.ucore.com.

Qualified Person

Ronald James (Jim) Robinson, B.Sc., P.Geo., an independent geologist and General Manager of Aurora Geosciences (Alaska) Ltd. of Juneau, Alaska, has prepared the technical data provided in this news release and is the qualified person responsible for its accuracy.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release includes certain statements that may be deemed "forward-looking statements" regarding, among other things, the Company's ALASKA2023 Business Plan as well as the upcoming prospective financing activities involving the Company and AIDEA. All statements in this release (other than statements of historical facts) that address future business development, technological development and/or acquisition activities (including any related required financings), timelines, litigation outcomes, events, or developments that the Company expects, are forward-looking statements. Although the Company believes the expectations expressed in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, such statements are not guarantees of future performance or results and actual results or developments may differ materially from those in forward-looking statements. In regard to the disclosure in the "About Ucore Rare Metals Inc." section above, the Company has assumed that it will be able to procure or retain additional partners and/or suppliers, in addition to IMC, as suppliers for Ucore's expected future Alaska Strategic Metals Complex ("Alaska SMC"). Ucore has also assumed that sufficient external funding will be found to prepare a new National Instrument 43-101 ("NI 43-101") technical report that demonstrates that the Bokan Mountain Rare Earth Elements project ("Bokan") is feasible and economically viable for the production of both REE and co-product metals and the then prevailing market prices based upon assumed customer off-take agreements. Ucore has also assumed that sufficient external funding will be secured to develop the specific engineering plans for the Alaska SMC and its construction. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in forward-looking statements include, without limitation: Innovation Metals Corp. ("IMC") failing to protect its intellectual property rights in RapidSX™; RapidSX failing to demonstrate commercial viability in large commercial-scale applications; Ucore not being able to procure additional key partners or suppliers for the Alaska SMC; Ucore not being able to raise sufficient funds to fund the specific design and construction of the Alaska SMC and/or the continued development of RapidSX; adverse capital-market conditions; unexpected due-diligence findings; the emergence of alternative superior metallurgy and metal-separation technologies; the inability of Ucore and/or IMC to retain its key staff members; a change in the legislation in Alaska and/or in the support expressed by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority ("AIDEA") regarding the development of Bokan and/or the Alaska SMC; the availability and procurement of any required interim and/or long-term financing that may be required; and general economic, market or business conditions.

Neither the TSXV nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined by the TSXV) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

CONTACT

Mark MacDonald
Vice President, Investor Relations
Ucore Rare Metals Inc.
902.482.5214
mark@ucore.com

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Trading resumes in: Company: Ucore Rare Metals Inc. TSX-Venture Symbol: UCU All Issues: Yes Resumption : 10:00 AM IIROC can make a decision to impose a temporary suspension of trading in a security of a publicly-listed company. Trading halts are implemented to ensure a fair and orderly market. IIROC is the national self-regulatory organization which oversees all investment dealers and trading activity on debt and ...

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Company: Ucore Rare Metals Inc.

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HighlightsUcore is developing the Alaska SMC for the processing of rare earth elements in Southeast AlaskaVital Metals is producing rare earth concentrate from its Nechalacho rare earth project in NWT, CanadaVital Metals is constructing a Rare Earth Extraction Plant to produce a mixed rare earth chemical concentrate in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan from the Nechalacho depositThe Alaska SMC is planned to commence ...

Highlights

  • Ucore is developing the Alaska SMC for the processing of rare earth elements in Southeast Alaska
  • Vital Metals is producing rare earth concentrate from its Nechalacho rare earth project in NWT, Canada
  • Vital Metals is constructing a Rare Earth Extraction Plant to produce a mixed rare earth chemical concentrate in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan from the Nechalacho deposit
  • The Alaska SMC is planned to commence production of up to 2000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of individual rare earth oxides from US-allied feedstock by H1-2024
  • Vital Metals is expected to commence the supply of a minimum of 500 tpa of a cerium depleted concentrate to Ucore in 2024; expandable to over 2,500 tpa by 2026

Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSXV: UCU) (OTCQX: UURAF) ("Ucore" or the "Company") is pleased to announce the execution of a Memorandum Of Understanding ("MOU") setting forth certain nonbinding understandings and binding agreements between Ucore and Vital Metals Limited (ASX: VML) ("Vital Metals" or "Vital") (collectively the "Parties"). The MOU is the first step towards the establishment of a long-term supply agreement for the delivery of mixed rare earth chemical concentrate ("MREC") from Vital Metals' Nechalacho project to Ucore's planned Alaska Strategic Metals Complex ("Alasks SMC") in Ketchikan, Alaska. The MREC will be shipped from Vital's Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Rare Earth Extraction Plant which is expected to enter into production in 2022.

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