How Rare Earths (What?) Could Be Crucial in a U.S.-China Trade War
New York Times
11 July 2018, Alexandra Stevenson
KUANTAN, Malaysia — Amanda Lacaze grabbed her iPhone and rattled off the names of the special minerals needed to make it. The screen was polished with lanthanum and cerium. The inside has a magnet made with neodymium and praseodymium.
Those minerals almost certainly came from China. Ms. Lacaze’s job is to give the world an alternative source, in case a global trade war spirals out of control and China cuts off supply.
Right now, she can’t. Her company, Lynas Corporation, can provide only a fraction of the minerals — known as rare earths — that China produces.
China has used its control of rare earths to try to get its way before. In 2010, it stopped exports to Japan for two months over a territorial dispute. Speculators hoarded rare earth minerals, sending prices soaring.
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