By Ryan David Kiggins

The members argue that infrequent earths are necessary to the knowledge know-how revolution on which people have come to rely for communique, trade, and, more and more, have interaction in clash. They show that infrequent earths are a strategic commodity over which political actors will and do fight for keep an eye on.

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Additional info for The Political Economy of Rare Earth Elements: Rising Powers and Technological Change

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The German magnet producer Vacuumschmelze has a joint venture for NdFeB magnets with China’s largest magnet producer Sanhuan. The Japanese electronics corporation TDK established a joint venture for NdFeB production in Guangdong in 2013. The lighting bulb manufacturer Osram was involved in a joint venture for fluorescent materials. The Japanese Mitsui Chemical, Showa Denko, and AGC Seimi Chemical as well as the French Rhodia have large polishing powder production facilities in China (TDK, 2013; Vakuumschmelze, 2012; Dou, 2011).

Energy and environmental technology were much more affected than information technology. In particular wind turbine manufacturers and energy-saving bulbs suffered large losses. At the same time, the high material costs were only one factor among many others and did not pose an existential threat to these industries. However, if rare earth prices remain elevated or, were to significantly increase, the security risk associated with rare earths may worsen, potentially rising to the level of existential threat.

The government creates a political supply challenge for the rare earth downstream and end-use sectors. It has an interest to raise the prices of rare earths in order to increase the benefits of the rare earth upstream sector. However, as the next section will analyze in more detail, the reduction of rare earth production and the temporary increase of prices had a negative impact on the rare earth downstream sector. The upstream sector benefited partly at the expense of the downstream sector. Chinese export restrictions have serious implications for the supply security of foreign consumer industries.

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