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China remains Germany's main supplier of rare earths

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-01-25 06:56

BERLIN -- Germany's imports of rare-earth metals from China amounted to 49.3 million euros ($53.7 million) in the first eleven months of 2022, accounting for two-thirds of the total imports, the country's Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) said on Tuesday.

For some of the rare earths, the share was even higher. Of the 220 tons of Scandium and Yttrium imported during this period, which were worth 1.7 million euros, 94.4 percent came from China.

The term rare earth refers to a group of 17 elements that are used to make a range of products and infrastructure which are increasingly important to everyday life. They can be found in mobiles, hard drives, and trains, but they are also important for green technology including wind turbines and electric vehicles.

As the world's largest producer of rare earths, China accounts for three-quarters of all imports globally, according to the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin). In the European Union (EU), the average share of rare-earths imports from China is around 94 percent.

With demand for rare earths in the EU expected to increase fivefold by 2030, Europe is planning to strengthen domestic production, processing and recycling through the Critical Raw Materials Act.

Earlier this month, the largest known deposit of rare earths in Europe, around one million tons, was discovered in Kiruna, northern Sweden. According to state-owned mining company LKAB, it is expected to take at least 10 to 15 years before mining can begin.

So far, no rare earths are being mined in Europe. (1 euro = 1.09 U.S. dollar)

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