China currently holds a monopoly on the production of rare earth metals
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The demand for rare earths continues to rise. In 2010, the worldwide demand for rare earth oxides was 127,500 metric tons.45 China produced over 130,000 metric tons of rare earths in 2010 and 2011, eclipsing world demand.46 The next largest producer was India with a paltry 3,000 metric tons, followed by Brazil at 550 metric tons, and Malaysia at thirty metric tons.47 These production rates exemplify the disparity between China and its closest competitors in the industry.
By 2014, it is estimated that total demand for rare earth oxides will reach 177,200 metric tons.48 This increase equates to a 75 percent growth in demand for battery alloy production and a 57 percent growth in demand for permanent magnets.49 Capacity for meeting the increased demand is uncertain. Of the world’s estimated 110,000,000 metric tons of reserves, China controls half.50 The Commonwealth of Independent States is second, controlling approximately 19,000,000 metric tons, with the U.S. in third at 13,000,000 metric tons.51 Despite the large number of reserves deposited across the planet, very few countries possess the capacity to mine the ores and process them into rare earth oxides. However, with increasing demand on the horizon accompanied by increasing value, more nations as well as private corporations may be willing to enter the market