Moscow, may 23 — “News. Economy.” The growth of tension in relations between the US and China sparked concerns that Beijing may use its dominant position as a supplier of rare earths as a weapon in the trade war. Meanwhile, rare earth metals are used in a wide range of products, writes Reuters.

Photo: EPA/QILAI SHEN

Rare earths are used in batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles and also for the production of computers, DVD players, wind turbines, catalysts in cars, monitors, televisions, lighting, lasers, fiber optics, superconductors, etc.

Some rare earth metals necessary for the production of military equipment, including jet engines, missile guidance system, missile defense system, satellites and lasers. Lanthanum, for example, necessary for the manufacture of night vision devices.

As reported “Vesti. Economy”, on Monday, the Chinese President XI Jinping visited the company production of rare earth metals JL MAG Rare-Earth Co. in Jiangxi. This visit sparked speculation that China may ban the export of rare earth metals in the United States in retaliation in a trade war.

USA may 10, has raised import duties on Chinese goods worth $200 billion with 10% to 25%. In addition, Washington began preparing for the introduction of increased import duties on Chinese goods another $300 billion the US has ruled out rare earth metals from the list of commodities that will be affected by a new wave of fees.

American companies such as Raytheon Co and Lockheed Martin Corp, missiles produce complex and require rare earth metals that are used in the guidance systems and sensors. Apple Inc also uses rare earth elements, in particular in the speakers and cameras.

Rare earth metals are a group of 17 elements, including gadolinium, holmium, dysprosium, europium, ytterbium, lutetium, neodymium, praseodymium, promethium, samarium, terbium, thulium, cerium, erbium, scandium, yttrium and lanthanum.

The share of China, a dominant global supplier of rare earth metals, accounting for about 80% of U.S. imports of these items.

According to the U.S. Geological survey in 2017 the share of China accounted for 81% of world production of rare earth metals. They are also mined in India, South Africa, Canada, Australia, Estonia, Malaysia and Brazil.

The Mountain Pass mine in California, the only operating U.S. source of production of rare earth metals. However, MP Materials, the owner of Mountain Pass, sends about 50 thousand tons of concentrate per year from California to China for processing.

Australia’s Lynas Corporation Ltd this week announced that it has signed a Memorandum of understanding with the Texas based company Blue Line Corp for the construction of a plant for processing rare earth metals in the United States.

US senators in may introduced a bill that encourages the development of domestic supplies. Recycling has also become a potential source of rare earth elements.

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