IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

A systemic approach to the problems of the rare earth market


  • Klossek, Polina
  • Kullik, Jakob
  • van den Boogaart, Karl Gerald


China’s dominance of the rare earth market has been raising issues of major concern since 2010. Reduced export quotas and consecutive price peaks led to fears concerning supply security. Forward integration is shifting the rare earth-dependent high-technology value chain to China. China’s export embargo to Japan showed the world the strategic relevance of its economic dependence on China’s rare earth products. Despite multiple political and industrial efforts outside China, it has not been possible to diminish the dependence on China, e.g. by building up an independent rare earth supply chain. We think that this is prevented by systemic problems of the rare earth market. This paper examines these distortions of the rare earth market with a systemic approach. Problems are identified and structured qualitatively in order to expose their economic and political connections. The systemic problems are (1) competing political-economic models, (2) resource nationalism, (3) market opacity, (4) a lack of trust, (5) weak cooperation and (6) short-versus long-term approaches and profit orientation. These problems are interconnected and amplify each other. In this context, the potential of four solutions to influence the rare earth market system is discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Klossek, Polina & Kullik, Jakob & van den Boogaart, Karl Gerald, 2016. "A systemic approach to the problems of the rare earth market," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 131-140.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jrpoli:v:50:y:2016:i:c:p:131-140
    DOI: 10.1016/j.resourpol.2016.09.005

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barteková, Eva & Kemp, René, 2016. "National strategies for securing a stable supply of rare earths in different world regions," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 153-164.
    2. Henckens, M.L.C.M. & Driessen, P.P.J. & Ryngaert, C. & Worrell, E., 2016. "The set-up of an international agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of geologically scarce mineral resources," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 92-101.
    3. Smith Stegen, Karen, 2015. "Heavy rare earths, permanent magnets, and renewable energies: An imminent crisis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 1-8.
    4. Hayes-Labruto, Leslie & Schillebeeckx, Simon J.D. & Workman, Mark & Shah, Nilay, 2013. "Contrasting perspectives on China's rare earths policies: Reframing the debate through a stakeholder lens," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 55-68.
    5. Massari, Stefania & Ruberti, Marcello, 2013. "Rare earth elements as critical raw materials: Focus on international markets and future strategies," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 36-43.
    6. Humphreys, David, 2013. "New mercantilism: A perspective on how politics is shaping world metal supply," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 341-349.
    7. Ebner, Julia, 2015. "The Sino–European race for Africa׳s minerals: When two quarrel a third rejoices," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 112-120.
    8. N.T. Nassar & Xiaoyue Du & T.E. Graedel, 2015. "Criticality of the Rare Earth Elements," Journal of Industrial Ecology, Yale University, vol. 19(6), pages 1044-1054, December.
    9. Achzet, Benjamin & Helbig, Christoph, 2013. "How to evaluate raw material supply risks—an overview," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 435-447.
    10. Zhü, kèyù & Zhao, Shuang-yao & Yang, Shanlin & Liang, Changyong & Gu, Dongxiao, 2016. "Where is the way for rare earth industry of China: An analysis via ANP-SWOT approach," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 349-357.
    11. Machacek, Erika & Fold, Niels, 2014. "Alternative value chains for rare earths: The Anglo-deposit developers," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 53-64.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Palacios, Jose-Luis & Calvo, Guiomar & Valero, Alicia & Valero, Antonio, 2018. "The cost of mineral depletion in Latin America: An exergoecology view," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 117-124.
    2. Riesgo García, María Victoria & Krzemień, Alicja & Manzanedo del Campo, Miguel Ángel & Menéndez Álvarez, Mario & Gent, Malcolm Richard, 2017. "Rare earth elements mining investment: It is not all about China," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 66-76.
    3. Lisa Depraiter & Stéphane Goutte, 2023. "The role and challenges of Rare Earths in the Energy Transition," Working Papers halshs-04126172, HAL.
    4. Hou, Wenyu & Liu, Huifang & Wang, Hui & Wu, Fengyang, 2018. "Structure and patterns of the international rare earths trade: A complex network analysis," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 133-142.
    5. Sabine Langkau & Martin Erdmann, 2021. "Environmental impacts of the future supply of rare earths for magnet applications," Journal of Industrial Ecology, Yale University, vol. 25(4), pages 1034-1050, August.
    6. Nikolay Yurevich Samsonov, 2018. "Global Chains of Supply of Rare-Earth and Rare Metals as High-Tech Raw Materials Within the Framework of International Industrial Cooperation," Spatial Economics=Prostranstvennaya Ekonomika, Economic Research Institute, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (Khabarovsk, Russia), issue 3, pages 43-66.
    7. Xia, Qifan & Du, Debin & Cao, Wanpeng & Li, Xiya, 2023. "Who is the core? Reveal the heterogeneity of global rare earth trade structure from the perspective of industrial chain," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 82(C).
    8. Behnaz Minooei Fard & Willi Semmler & Giovanni Di Bartolomeo, 2023. "Rare Earth Elements: A game between China and the rest of the world," Working Papers in Public Economics 235, University of Rome La Sapienza, Department of Economics and Law.
    9. Zheng, Biao & Zhang, Yuquan & Chen, Yufeng, 2021. "Asymmetric connectedness and dynamic spillovers between renewable energy and rare earth markets in China: Evidence from firms’ high-frequency data," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 71(C).
    10. Reboredo, Juan C. & Ugolini, Andrea, 2020. "Price spillovers between rare earth stocks and financial markets," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 66(C).
    11. Hau, Liya & Zhu, Huiming & Yu, Yang & Yu, Dongwei, 2022. "Time-frequency coherence and quantile causality between trade policy uncertainty and rare earth prices: Evidence from China and the US," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 75(C).

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Yufeng Chen & Biao Zheng, 2019. "What Happens after the Rare Earth Crisis: A Systematic Literature Review," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 11(5), pages 1-26, March.
    2. Schmid, Marc, 2019. "Mitigating supply risks through involvement in rare earth projects: Japan's strategies and what the US can learn," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 1-1.
    3. Paulick, Holger & Machacek, Erika, 2017. "The global rare earth element exploration boom: An analysis of resources outside of China and discussion of development perspectives," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 134-153.
    4. Salim, Hengky & Sahin, Oz & Elsawah, Sondoss & Turan, Hasan & Stewart, Rodney A., 2022. "A critical review on tackling complex rare earth supply security problem," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 77(C).
    5. Zhang, Kuangyuan & Kleit, Andrew N. & Nieto, Antonio, 2017. "An economics strategy for criticality – Application to rare earth element Yttrium in new lighting technology and its sustainable availability," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 899-915.
    6. Shigetomi, Yosuke & Nansai, Keisuke & Kagawa, Shigemi & Kondo, Yasushi & Tohno, Susumu, 2017. "Economic and social determinants of global physical flows of critical metals," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 107-113.
    7. Zuo, Zhili & Cheng, Jinhua & Guo, Haixiang & McLellan, Benjamin Craig, 2021. "Catastrophe progression method - path (CPM-PATH) early warning analysis of Chinese rare earths industry security," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 73(C).
    8. Ge, Jianping & Lei, Yalin, 2018. "Resource tax on rare earths in China: Policy evolution and market responses," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 291-297.
    9. Shuai, Jing & Peng, Xinjie & Zhao, Yujia & Wang, Yilan & Xu, Wei & Cheng, Jinhua & Lu, Yang & Wang, Jingjin, 2022. "A dynamic evaluation on the international competitiveness of China's rare earth products: An industrial chain and tech-innovation perspective," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 75(C).
    10. Riba, Jordi-Roger & López-Torres, Carlos & Romeral, Luís & Garcia, Antoni, 2016. "Rare-earth-free propulsion motors for electric vehicles: A technology review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 367-379.
    11. Han, Aiping & Ge, Jianping & Lei, Yalin, 2015. "An adjustment in regulation policies and its effects on market supply: Game analysis for China’s rare earths," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(P2), pages 30-42.
    12. Hache, Emmanuel & Seck, Gondia Sokhna & Simoen, Marine & Bonnet, Clément & Carcanague, Samuel, 2019. "Critical raw materials and transportation sector electrification: A detailed bottom-up analysis in world transport," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 240(C), pages 6-25.
    13. ZHANG, Lu & GUO, Qing & ZHANG, Junbiao & HUANG, Yong & XIONG, Tao, 2015. "Did China׳s rare earth export policies work? — Empirical evidence from USA and Japan," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 82-90.
    14. Juliana Segura-Salazar & Luís Marcelo Tavares, 2018. "Sustainability in the Minerals Industry: Seeking a Consensus on Its Meaning," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 10(5), pages 1-38, May.
    15. Weiser, Annika & Bickel, Manuel W. & Kümmerer, Klaus & Lang, Daniel J., 2020. "Towards a more sustainable metal use – Lessons learned from national strategy documents," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C).
    16. Schlinkert, Dominik & van den Boogaart, Karl Gerald, 2015. "The development of the market for rare earth elements: Insights from economic theory," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(P2), pages 272-280.
    17. Mancheri, Nabeel A., 2015. "World trade in rare earths, Chinese export restrictions, and implications," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(P2), pages 262-271.
    18. Benjamin C. McLellan & Eiji Yamasue & Tetsuo Tezuka & Glen Corder & Artem Golev & Damien Giurco, 2016. "Critical Minerals and Energy–Impacts and Limitations of Moving to Unconventional Resources," Resources, MDPI, vol. 5(2), pages 1-40, May.
    19. Rabe, Wiebke & Kostka, Genia & Smith Stegen, Karen, 2017. "China's supply of critical raw materials: Risks for Europe's solar and wind industries?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 692-699.
    20. Dewulf, Jo & Blengini, Gian Andrea & Pennington, David & Nuss, Philip & Nassar, Nedal T., 2016. "Criticality on the international scene: Quo vadis?," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 169-176.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jrpoli:v:50:y:2016:i:c:p:131-140. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.