The rare earth metal race: How India lost it to China – Manish Tewari

(Manish Tewari is a lawyer and former Union Minister. This column first appeared in Asian Age on August 29, 2021)

  • “Rare Earth Elements (REE) are an ace in China’s hand”, read a Global Times headline in 2019. China currently controls nearly 90 per cent of the world’s REE mining and refinement and forms the bedrock of its global supply chain. China’s dominance of the rare earths industry is the result of a reckless and destructive ecological campaign to cut down costs, and a long-term strategic plan involving more than 20 years of precise planning by the Chinese state. Such is the strategic importance attached to rare earths that President Xi Jinping has made it a habit to flex China’s Trade Muscle by visiting to Rare Earths Hub, mining sites and plants frequently. But why are rare earths so important? Rare earths, a set of 17 nearly indistinguishable lustrous silvery-white soft heavy metals, are present in almost everything we use from processors to advanced alloys to electric vehicles to consumer electronics and industrial machinery. Moreover, they are extremely crucial for various weapon systems including missile navigation and sensor systems…

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