Miners usually have to have a good relationship with their host countries, workers and major shareholders, and that’s about it. Those hoping to mine and sell rare earths have far more stakeholders, and the products’ geopolitical significance means getting it right is critical.
China dominates supply, demand and processing. But two London-listed companies are looking at building plants to process their Africa-sourced products in Europe, either in the north of England or on the continent. An Australian-listed company is also looking at the Tees Valley for a rare earths processing plant, so it's possible three could be built in England within a few years.
These metals – which aren’t that rare – are used in electric vehicle motors and offshore wind turbines. Each of the new offshore turbines need tonnes of rare earths. The two key rare earths are neodymium and praseodymium, known as NdPr together.