Chart found here. It all looks so suspiciously similar huh? Like production magically rises to meet global demand. Pretty strange, that. Like some invisible hand guides the process . . .
China, which controls 90 percent of production of rare earths globally right now, is believed to be stockpiling a strategic reserve (always suspicious when somebody else does it, but entirely sensible when the US does). The US, for example, still has defense-tended stockpiles of strategic commodities from WWII! China, as in all things, simply catches up, like creating a strategic petroleum reserve like ours.
WSJ gets it right:
Many rare-earth minerals aren't actually rare, and China doesn't have a monopoly on deposits of any particular rare-earth elements.
China has half the world reserve total, then the FSU has just under one-fifth, then the US with about 1/10th, and the rest of the world owns the remainder one-fifth.
Naturally, there are calls for the US to start similarly stockpiling rare-earths, rather than rely on potential enemy China.
Not a big trick. Somebody's just got to spend the money to make the US mines profitable.
But it's interesting: the more China connects to the world, the more nervous we get--and plan to protect ourselves with these various dreams of autarky. Quite the reversal from the Cold War, huh?