Rare monopolies

China is the overwhelmingly major supplier of rare earth minerals to the rest of the world. (South Africa has a tiny share.)

Rare earth minerals (or elements) are critical factors of production of many high technology items such as super-conductors, catalysts, rare earth magnets and batteries of the kind used in hybrids and laptops.

With that background, you can imagine what a problem it is when China unofficially halts export of rare earth minerals to Japan over a disputed arrest of fisherman. Now, after the US has begun to investigate Chinese trade practices, China has unofficially halted exports of these crucial resources to the US as well.

Published by David Kirk

The opinions expressed on this site are those of the author and other commenters and are not necessarily those of his employer or any other organisation. David Kirk runs Milliman’s actuarial consulting practice in Africa. He is an actuary and is the creator of New Business Margin on Revenue. He specialises in risk and capital management, regulatory change and insurance strategy . He also has extensive experience in embedded value reporting, insurance-related IFRS and share option valuation.