Tariffs on Chinese rare-earth minerals create a sticky problem for US competitors

truck driving out of rare earth minerals mine

Enlarge / A pick-up truck
makes its way out of the Mountain Pass open pit mine in California
in 2009. (credit: Photo by Jacob Kepler/Bloomberg via Getty
Images)

President Trump’s tariffs on rare-earth metals from China should
have been a boon to the only US rare-earth minerals mine in
California. But a recent Wall
Street Journal article
illustrates that, given the complex
nature of the global economy, those tariffs have actually put the
Mountain Pass mine in a tough place.

A hedge fund recently bought Mountain Pass out of bankruptcy
after several companies attempted to turn a profit from it. Six
months later, the WSJ wrote, Trump announced tariffs that should
have helped the mine supply more domestic rare-earths at a higher
price.

However, most of the world’s rare-earth processing facilities
are in China, which also produces more than 90 percent of the
world’s rare-earth minerals. To develop its metals as cheaply as
possible, Mountain Pass has first been shipping its ore to China,
where the processed metals are then sold on the world market to
makers of smartphones, laptops, and magnets that go into electric
car motors and giant wind turbines.

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
Tariffs on Chinese rare-earth minerals create a sticky problem for US competitors