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US-China trade war sparks worries about rare earth minerals

Posted at 10:56 AM, Jun 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-08 13:56:16-04

PHOENIX (AP) - Rising trade tensions have sparked worries about the 17 rare minerals needed for high-tech products such as robotics, drones and electric cars.

China recently raised tariffs to 25% on rare earth exports to the U.S. and has threatened to halt exports altogether after the Trump administration raised tariffs on Chinese products and blacklisted telecommunications giant Huawei.

With names like europium, scandium and ytterbium, the bulk of rare earth minerals are extracted from mines in China, where lower wages and lax environmental standards make production cheaper and easier.

But trade experts say no one should panic over China's threats to stop exporting the elements to the U.S.

There is a U.S. rare minerals mine in California. Australia, Myanmar and Russia are also top producers of the somewhat obscure minerals.