The rare earth elements (REE) are a set of 17 metallic elements. These include the 15 lanthanides on the periodic table plus scandium and yttrium. Rare earth elements are an essential part of many high technology devices 
Their magnetic and luminescent properties make them essential components of digital and low carbon technologies. They have risen to prominence because production from mining through to manufacturing is dominated by China, making REE the epitome of critical raw materials 
China’s rare earth reserves account for approximately 23% of the world’s total . But are being excessively exploited . Although 23% is a high percentage for one nation to possess, China supplies over 90% of rare earth products on the global market.
Rare Earth Usage
A group of 17 metals vital for manufacturing products ranging from smart phones, wind turbines, electric car batteries to missiles. Did you know that rare earths helps reducing the weight of our cars? 
If China starts reducing its output or export, we may see spiralling prices for our modern accessories or even simply be able to produce them in the first place.
China has ‘paid a big price’ for problems in its rare earth industry like:
- Excessive exploitation
- Environmental damages
- Unhealthy industrial structure
- Under rated prices
- Rampant smuggling
Reserve to extraction ratio of ion absorption rare earth mines in southern provinces of China is slumping to 15 from 50 two decades ago. Therefore China’s reserve is depleting.
US-China Trade War
Beijing threatens to stop exporting the natural resources to the U.S. amid a trade war between the two countries . China accounted for 80% of rare earth imports between 2014 and 2017 to the United States.
Presently, American ore is exported to China, where it is separated and processed, before being shipped back to the U.S. The U.S. lacks refining and processing techniques. On the other hand, China acquired the technology to mine, extract and process rare earth metals. Eventually establishing a full production chain in their country 
Bayan Obo, one of the largest deposits of rare earth metals in the world. With a population of 2.7 million, Baotou has been a major production centre in China since the 1950s when China’s Community Party endeavoured to develop its rare earth industry.
It is responsible for more than half of the mining and production output of rare earth metals in China and boasts deposits of at least 100 million tonnes
Where It All Started
Bao Steel (later become Northern Rare Earths) was set up in 1953 to produce ferrosilicon, an alloy of iron, silicon and rare earth metals. When it was first established, it was kept as a national secret and soldiers were said to be guarding the factory gates to prevent civilians from entering.
China made its breakthrough in rare earth mining in 1984 thanks to a team of researchers from the Baotou Research Institute of Rare Earths, who successfully extracted 7 rare earths elements from its soil in Bayan Obo region.
Production & Reserves 2018
In 2011, Malaysia was producing around 30 tonnes of rare earth. However this figure is clearly lagging behind with the likes of major producers. Namely China, Australia and U.S.
China accounts for around 80% of U.S. rare earths supply, materials used in many high technology goods. Ranging from consumer items like electric cars all the way to cutting edge weapons and communications systems. However, China’s share of global rare earth production fell from more than 95% in 2010 to 70% in 2018. It is likely to dip further 
It is true in today world. China’s rare earth exports fell to 35,448 tonnes in 2020 from 46,330 tonnes in 2019. Customs data showed on Thursday. After the coronavirus hit overseas demand and as more supply was used in domestic industries .
According to Apple, the elements are not available from traditional recyclers because they are used in such small amounts. Therefore, they cannot be recovered 
- What are rare earth elements, and why are they important?
- Rare Earth Elements
- How are rare earth used?
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