Interdependence in rare earth element supply between China and the United States helps stabilize global supply chains

Wei Chen, Matthew J. Eckelman, Benjamin Sprecher, Wei Chen, Peng Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Rare earth elements (REEs) are vital to the development of low-carbon technologies. There are rising concerns in the United States and elsewhere about REE supply chain stability and risks given the unvalidated perception in the heavy reliance of China, by far the largest REE supplier. However, the relationship between key countries at different stages of global REE supply chains remains unclear. Here, we use a dynamic flow analysis to explore supply dependence between the United States and China by tracing REE flows from mineral mining to market between 2000 and 2022. Our results indicate complementary and cooperative US–China interactions, especially after 2018 when the United States became a net exporter of REE and China's largest supplier, and China became the largest importer of the US REEs and manufacturer of REE-enabled low-carbon technologies. This intensifying interdependence stabilizes REE supply chains and highlights the importance of cooperative REE trade networks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-252
Number of pages11
JournalOne Earth
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • critical raw materials
  • material flow analysis
  • rare earth elements
  • sustainable development
  • US–China cooperation


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