A Transatlantic project on rare earth production initiative is challenging China’s dominating position

Rare earth manufacturer Neo Performance Materials NEO.TO and Energy Fuels Inc announced on Monday a new rare earth production initiative spanning European and North American critical material supply chains. 

Under the agreement, uranium miner Energy Fuels said it would process the monazite sands into a mixed rare earth carbonate in Utah for use as feed material for Neo’s rare earth production plant in Europe.

This move intends to reduce dependence on China for the vital metals used in weapons, electric vehicles and other advanced technology. China controls about 80% of rare earths supply and has been considering an export ban, leading to fears it will gain a military and commercial advantage over the US and Europe. 

Raw materials are crucial to Europe’s economy. They form a strong industrial base, producing a broad range of goods and applications used in everyday life and modern technologies. Reliable and unhindered access to certain raw materials is a growing concern within the EU and across the globe.

Why critical raw materials are important?
  • Link to industry – non-energy raw materials are linked to all industries across all supply chain stages.
  • Modern technology – technological progress and quality of life rely on access to a growing number of raw materials. For example, a smartphone might contain up to 50 different kinds of metals, all of which contribute to its small size, light weight and functionality.
  • Environment – raw materials are closely linked to clean technologies. They are irreplaceable in solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles, and energy-efficient lighting.