The United States was once a thriving producer of rare earth elements (“REEs”), a group of 17 elements deemed critical to clean energy and modern technologies. REEs are used in a bevy of applications including cell phones, computers, electric vehicles, defense equipment, renewable energy systems and more. China has dominated global rare earth markets, driving out competitors and controlling nearly all of the world’s processing capacity. China has wielded this monopoly of the REE supply chain to influence foreign policies, a weaponization that threatens the economic and national security of the U.S. and other countries around the world. Against this backdrop, the U.S. government is committed to ending its dependence upon China for REEs, and Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) (Profile) is among the leaders with projects that intend to re-ignite REE production in the U.S., which in Energy Fuels’ case, is expected as soon as early 2021. In December 2020, the company advanced its entry into the REE market by inking a three-year supply agreement with the Chemours Company (NYSE: CC) to acquire a minimum of 2,500 tons per year of natural monazite sand ore, one of the highest-grade and highest-value rare earth minerals in the world. Yet, the relatively tiny quantity of natural monazite the company will be acquiring from Chemours contains close to 10% of total U.S. demand for rare earths. Chemours is the nation’s leading miner of monazite, a reddish-brown phosphate mineral sand containing high concentrations of REEs and uranium. Companies are looking to shift their supply chains away from China, as EV maker Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) recently did by becoming a lithium miner in Nevada to supplement its other material feeds. Tech juggernaut Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is following a different path, using recycled REEs in its latest products with plans for the entire corporate footprint to have net zero climate impact by 2030. Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy SA (OTC: GCTAF) has challenges of its own as a major supplier of wind turbines, which requires REEs in their construction.

Share | Download