Hope is Here for the Rare Earth Elements Crisis

Molycorp's Rare Earth Mine in California
Molycorp's Mountain Pass Mine, Producing Rare Earth Materials in California. Photo Courtesy of Molycorp.com.

If you’ve read any of our previous posts on the rare earth elements situation, you know that China’s stranglehold on the market has caused the prices of fluorescent light bulbs to increase dramatically.

Today, China controls more than 95% of rare earth elements—some of which are crucial in the making of fluorescent light bulbs. China’s production cap on the mining of rare earth elements is meant to crack down on illegal manufacturing, but by doing so it’s also limiting the output of the green tech industry, among others.  See: Why are CFLs Becoming More Expensive? and Will the Future of Fluorescent Lighting be Shaky?

But now there’s light (no pun intended) at the end of the tunnel. According to this article on Forbes.com, an end to China’s monopoly might finally happen. It seems China’s latest increased export restrictions have caused the U.S., E.U., and Japan to spring into action.

As I write, 35 new rare earth projects are taking shape beyond Chinese borders, including mines in California and Canada. The possibilities are exciting—up to 20% of rare earth materials may be produced outside of China in less than 10 years. Additionally, domestic production of these elements has the potential to increase product innovation in the U.S., reinvigorate our manufacturing industry, and lower prices for consumers.

Annie Josey

Annie was the E-Commerce Marketing Specialist at Pegasus Lighting from June 2012 to October 2013. She has a background in English literature, and loves using language to help illuminate the world. So covering lighting news and tips naturally fit her interests. In her personal time she enjoys painting, biking, and reading.