Rare Earths in China: Changing Landscape Points to an Uncertain Future for Global Green Growth


Wednesday, November 2, 2016, 3:30pm to 4:45pm


Pierce Hall 100F, 29 Oxford St., Cambridge, MA

Speaker: Hongqiao Liu

Hongqiao LIU, Consultant, China Water Risk

Sponsored by China Project, Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Abstract: China has been the dominant supplier of rare earths raw materials & primary processed products in global market since early 1990s. Rare earths embedded in wind turbines, batteries, electronic vehicles (EVs) & smart phones keeps mainstream technical solutions light, efficient and affordable. Recent study from China Water Risk identified rare earths a bottleneck of green growth in the long march of global decarbonisation. China may fail to meet its domestic demand growth driven by ambitious INDC & the "Made-in-China 2025" development plan, let alone to continue to supply the rest of the world with its depleted rare earths reserves. Stringent environmental regulations in the ongoing “war on pollution“ plus a new national commodity traceable system also means the “business usual” built on rampant pollution in China, a international black market and global pricing failure may no longer last. Even so, global dependence on China would increase as it remains the monopoly supplier of heavy rare earths (HREEs), the more critical raw material for clean techs.