According to the United States Geological Survey, as of 2000, China produces well over 90% of world demand for rare earth metals. Their ores are rich in yttrium, lanthanum and neodymium. In August 2010, lingering fears over Chinese dominance of crucial rare earth supplies were brought to focus when China restricted export quotas of the metals with no official explanation, immediately sparking debate over decentralization of world rare earth production.
Great quantities of rare earth ores are known in California, but current mining is not significant enough to strategically control any portion of the global rare earths market.
Rare earths are traded on the NYSE in the form of ETFs that represent a basket of supplier and mining stocks, as opposed to trading in the metals themselves. This is due to their rarity and price, as well as their almost strictly industrial consumption. Rare earth metals are not considered a good physical investment like precious metals, which hold low-tech intrinsic value.
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