Meeting the global REE supply shortage before 2014
China’s dominance in the supply and production of rare earths (97%), the increasing demand within China and worldwide for technologies that rely on rare earths and a 72% reduction (source?) in exports by China, is definitely the biggest basis for supply concerns. And once these kinds of inventions are being mass-produced for consumers, the supply issue for the rare earth elements will be even greater. It is has been suggested that Molycorp and Lynas, the two companies seen to be closest to production, may have already sold their production to Japan and Europe.
There will be a short-term supply problem and it doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about lanthanum, cerium, neodymium, dysprosium, light rare earth elements (LREEs) or heavy (HREEs). Until the supply issues balance out, China will be in short supply in the short term. This has created a psychological factor that will further drive up the price. In 2010, prices rose by about 72%.
The other psychological factor is the use by the military of REEs. Although it’s impossible to estimate how much and for what purpose, military use of REEs includes everything from night vision goggles to so-called smart bombs. This is one of the reasons there is so much concern about having the world’s supply in the hands of just one country.