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TAKING NOTES

The rare earth industry is drawing supply chain lessons from the semiconductor shortage

The MP Materials rare earths mine in California, US.
Reuters/Steve Marcus
Chain effect.
  • Mary Hui
By Mary Hui

Reporter

Published Last updated on

The global computer chips shortage that began worsening late last year has disrupted supply chains around the world, snarling production of everything from cars to phones to household appliances. And the rare earth industry is watching closely.

Both chips and rare earths form critical supply chains that power the high-tech economy, and are the subject of intense scrutiny by governments looking to shore up supplies as a matter of national security. Rare earths are a group of 17 metals crucial to the manufacturing of high-tech products.

At MP Materials, the operator of the only active rare earths mine in the US, executives and staffers are carefully studying the companyโ€™s own supply chain for weaknesses and chokepoints, in part motivated by the situation surrounding the prolonged chips shortfall. If a lack of chips has idled auto plants from India to Canada, what can be done to minimize the risk that a dearth of rare earth products will disrupt wind turbine and electric vehicle battery manufacturers?

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