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China continues to dominate rare earth element extraction for another decade

The International Energy Agency’s recently released “Global Critical Mineral Outlook 2024” report predicts that by 2030, the global rare earth element refining capacity will still be highly concentrated in certain countries or regions around the world, with China alone accounting for 77% of the global rare earth element refining capacity.
The International Energy Agency said that rare earth elements are essential to promoting clean energy transformation and can be used to make automotive traction motors for electric vehicles and wind turbine motors. In terms of global refining capacity, rare earth elements are the most geographically concentrated of all key energy transition minerals. In 2023, China, Malaysia and Australia will dominate the world’s total rare earth refined production with a market share of 98%. Among them, China alone accounts for 62% of the global mining volume, and the proportion of refined production is as high as 92%. In terms of rare earth mining, the International Energy Agency expects that regional concentration will improve in the future. Last year, China, Australia and Myanmar accounted for 85% of the total market share, of which China accounted for 62%. By 2030, China’s share is expected to drop to 54%, and Australia and Myanmar are expected to account for 18% and 9% respectively.
The IEA’s Announced Pledges Scenario (APS) forecasts global demand for rare earth elements to reach 131,000 tonnes by 2030 and 181,000 tonnes by 2050, assuming governments fully implement all climate-related commitments on time. This demand will be driven primarily by electric vehicle motors and wind turbines, with electric vehicles seeing the largest increase, from 7% in 2023 to nearly 30% in 2050.

The IEA also forecasts that global supply of rare earth elements from operating and announced mining projects will increase by 44% to more than 107,000 tonnes by 2030, and is expected to grow further by 8% to 116,000 tonnes in 2040. Similarly, refined supply from operating and announced projects is expected to rise to 106,000 tonnes in 2030 and more than 110,000 tonnes in 2040.

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