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Visualizing China’s Dominance in Rare Earth Metals

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China's rare earth metals exports

China’s Dominance in Rare Earth Metals

Did you know that a single iPhone contains eight different rare earth metals?

From smartphones and electric vehicles to x-rays and guided-missiles, several modern technologies wouldn’t be what they are without rare earth metals. Also known as rare earth elements or simply “rare earths”, this group of 17 elements is critical to a number of wide-ranging industries.

Although deposits of rare earth metals exist all over the world, the majority of both mining and refining occurs in China. The above graphic from CSIS China Power Project tracks China’s exports of rare earth metals in 2019, providing a glimpse of the country’s dominating presence in the global supply chain.

China’s Top Rare Earth Export Destinations

Around 88% of China’s 2019 rare earth exports went to just five countries, which are among the world’s technological and economic powerhouses.

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Japan and the U.S. are by far the largest importers, collectively accounting for more than two-thirds of China’s rare earth metals exports.

Lanthanum, found in hybrid vehicles and smartphones, was China’s largest rare earth export by volume, followed by cerium. In dollar terms, terbium was the most expensive—generating $57.9 million from just 115 metric tons of exports.

Why China’s Dominance Matters

As the world transitions to a cleaner future, the demand for rare earth metals is expected to nearly double by 2030, and countries are in need of a reliable supply chain.

China’s virtual monopoly in rare earth metals not only gives it a strategic upper hand over heavily dependent countries like the U.S.—which imports 80% of its rare earths from China—but also makes the supply chain anything but reliable.

“China will not rule out using rare earth exports as leverage to deal with the [Trade War] situation.”

—Gao Fengping et al., 2019, in a report funded by the Chinese government via Horizon Advisory.

A case in point comes from 2010 when China reduced its rare earth export quotas by 37%, which in part resulted in skyrocketing rare earth prices worldwide.

average prices of rare earth imports

The resulting supply chain disruption was significant enough to push the EU, the U.S., and Japan to jointly launch a dispute settlement case through the World Trade Organization, which was ruled against China in 2014.

On the brighter side, the increase in prices led to an influx of capital in the rare earth mining industry, financing more than 200 projects outside China. While this exploration boom was short-lived, it was successful in kick-starting production in other parts of the world.

Breaking China’s Rare Earth Monopoly

China’s dominance in rare earths is the result of years of evolving industrial policies since the 1980s, ranging from tax rebates to export restrictions. In order to reduce dependence on China, the U.S. and Japan have made it a priority to diversify their sources of rare earth metals.

For starters, the U.S. has added rare earth metals to its list of critical minerals, and President Donald Trump recently issued an executive order to encourage local production. On the other side of the world, Japan is making efforts to reduce China’s share of its total rare earth imports to less than 50% by 2025.

Increasing rare earth mining outside of China has reduced China’s global share of mining, down from 97.7% in 2010 to 62.9% in 2019. But mining is merely one piece of the puzzle.

Ultimately, the large majority of rare earth refining, 80%, resides in China. Therefore, even rare earths mined overseas are sent to China for final processing. New North American refining facilities are being set up to tackle this, but the challenge lies in managing the environmental impacts of processing rare earths.

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Electrification

Visualizing Peru’s Silver Mining Strength

With a rich history of mining, Peru plays a vital role in supplying the world with silver for clean energy technologies and electrification.

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Peru's Silver Mining Strength

Visualizing Peru’s Silver Mining Strength

Peru’s silver mining industry is critical as the world progresses towards a clean energy transition. Silver’s use in EVs, solar energy, and mobile technologies will require ready supplies to meet demand.

Peru will be centre stage as the world’s second-largest producer of the precious metal.

This graphic sponsored by Silver X showcases Peru’s silver mining strength on the global scale, putting in perspective the country’s prolific production.

Global Silver Production by Country

Mexico, Peru, and China dominate global silver production, with these countries producing more than double the silver of any other country outside of the top three.

In terms of regional production, Central and South America provide the backbone for the world’s silver industry. With five nations in the top 10 producers, these regions delivered ~50% of the world’s 2020 silver production.

Country2020 Silver Production (in million ounces)Share of Global Silver Production
Mexico178.122.7%
Peru109.714.0%
China108.613.8%
Chile47.46.0%
Australia43.85.6%
Russia42.55.4%
Poland39.45.0%
United States31.74.0%
Bolivia29.93.8%
Argentina22.92.9%
World Total784.4100%

Along with being the top silver mining regions in the world, Central and South America silver production expects to have the strongest rebound in 2021.

While global silver production could increase by 8.2%, Central and South America’s production could rise by 12.1%.

Peru can feed this growth, with the country’s exploration investment forecast for this year expected to reach up to $300 million with over 60 projects currently in various stages of development.

The South American Powerhouse: Peru’s Silver Mining Strength

Despite its current silver production, there remains more to mine and explore. In fact, Peru holds the majority of the world’s silver reserves with 18.2%, making it the global focal point for silver exploration and future production.

CountrySilver Reserves (in tons)Share of World Silver
Peru91,00018.2%
China41,0008.2%
Mexico37,0007.4%
Chile26,0005.2%
Australia25,0005.0%
Other countries280,00056%
World total500,000100%

While 2020 and 2021 saw slowdowns in mineral production, Peru’s metallic mining subsector increased by 5.1% in August 2021 compared to the same month last year. The country’s National Institute of Statistics and Informatics also highlighted a double-digit rise in silver production of 22.7% compared to August of last year.

Satiating the World’s Silver Demand

As silver demand is forecasted to increase by 15% just in 2021, silver supply constraints are a clear roadblock for clean energy technologies and electric vehicle production. With Peru’s annual silver production forecasted to grow by more than 27% by 2024, the country is looking to solve the world’s growing silver supply crunch.

The nation’s strong credit ratings and well-established mining sector offers investors a unique opportunity to tap into the growth of Peru and its silver industry, while powering renewable energy and electric vehicle production.

As a Peru-based mineral development and exploration company, Silver X Mining is working to produce and uncover the silver deposits that will provide the world with the metal it needs for cleaner technologies.

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Real Assets

The Next Frontier: Mineral Exploration in Saskatchewan

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Saskatchewan Mineral Exploration

The Next Frontier: Mineral Exploration in Saskatchewan

Lying in the heart of Canada is the next great mineral exploration frontier, Saskatchewan. This humble province lies at the center of one of the greatest mining countries in the world, but despite Canada’s long history with mining, Saskatchewan is still open for discovery.

This infographic from our sponsor SKRR Exploration shows where the next mineral frontier for discovery lies in Saskatchewan.

The Road to Resources: Opening for Business

Saskatchewan covers 588,239 square kilometers, roughly the size of Iran or Mongolia, with a population density of only 1.8 persons per square kilometer. This central province sits on the edge of a vast frontier that is rich with mineral resources that could power and feed the world.

In order to encourage investment, Saskatchewan has several incentive programs for the mining industry.

  • The Targeted Mineral Exploration Incentive: 25% rebate on eligible drilling costs in regions of high potential for base metals, precious metals and diamonds.
  • The Saskatchewan Mineral Exploration Tax Credit: A non-refundable 10% tax credit to Saskatchewan taxpayers who invest in eligible flow-through shares issued by mining or exploration companies.
  • A 10-year royalty holiday for new gold and base metal mines.
  • A 5-year incorporation tax rebate for mineral processing.

While the province is encouraging mineral exploration, there are already proven success stories that are just scraping the surface of the opportunities available.

Resources Ready to Go

In 2020, Saskatchewan sold C$7.4 billion worth of metals and minerals, the fourth highest amount in Canada. Saskatchewan’s mining sector provides business opportunities and jobs for over 12,400 individuals across the province, and contributes an additional 25,000 indirect jobs.

  • Potash: The province has the largest potash industry in the world, accounting for about 1/3 of annual global production and hosting nearly half of the world’s known reserves.
  • Uranium: The world’s richest deposits of uranium lie in Saskatchewan, giving the province the ability to produce more uranium with less land surface disturbance than almost anywhere on Earth.
  • Diamonds: In 2004, Shore Gold discovered diamonds near Fort à La Corne in central Saskatchewan. There is a plan to bring the 66-million carat Star-Orion South project into production.
  • Base Metals: The Flin Flon mining camp, on the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border, is a large base metal producer region and is estimated to have the highest contained value of ore per square kilometer in Canada for VMS deposits.
  • Gold: The province holds two multi-million ounce discoveries to date, the Seabee and MacLellan gold mines in the Trans-Hudson geological formation.

There is more to discovery. Exploration expenditures in 2019 were $264 million, and companies planned to spend $242 million in 2020.

SKRR Exploration: Opening a Frontier

SKRR Exploration is leading mineral exploration into Canada’s final frontier and has secured prime mineral properties to take advantage of the wave of demand for metals. SKRR has six gold and one base metal exploration projects in the heart of one of the most prospective geological belts in North America.

At the helm of SKRR exploration are two leaders who know the geology of Saskatchewan well and have a proven history of discovery, Ron Neolitzky and Ross McElroy. Neolitzky was inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame for his development of two successful precious metals mines. McElroy was part of the exploration team that discovered Cameco’s McArthur uranium deposit.

SKRR Exploration is bringing together the right elements of Saskatchewan to make the next great discovery.

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