The Rare Earth Metal Megatrend

Published on
February 27th, 2019
22 minutes

The Rare Earth Metal Megatrend

Discoveries ·
Featuring Justine Underhill, Julie M. Klinger, Masato Sagawa, & Michael Rapaport

Published on: February 27th, 2019 • Duration: 22 minutes

What kind of future are we building with the tools we have today? As Justine Underhill continues to answer that question, she examines the consequences of our reliance on rare earth metals, which play crucial roles in cell phones, laptops, TVs and speakers. These metals are also essential for new “green” technologies, including wind turbines and electric vehicle motors, but the way they are mined could be an environmental disaster. Justine investigates how China rose to dominance in rare earth production, and shakes the web of fragile supply chains, as she speaks with Julie Klinger, author of Rare Earth Frontiers, Masato Sagawa, the inventor of rare earth magnets, metals trader Michael Rapaport, and the owners and operators of MP Materials, the only rare earth mining site in the U.S. Filmed in 2018 and 2019 in New York, Boston, Las Vegas and Mountain Pass, California.


  • RD
    Ray D.
    18 December 2020 @ 18:55
    Amazing video!!! Justine Underhill was so engaging and easy to listen to (more from her please). The scenery and shots were great. I watched with our whole family. Good length, kept the attention of my 8 and 10 year old the whole time (quite an accomplishment). Education videos to go along with the investment ideas give a great tool for parents to help children understand the world and the family's investments. Great Work!
  • JS
    Jaco S.
    1 May 2019 @ 20:30
    Great stuff.
  • PH
    Peter H.
    26 April 2019 @ 04:31
    I might be simplistic in my outlook... but at the end when the question was poised ..What to do next? First thing that came to mind was - - get serious about recycling. So many of the products that use these materials have designed obsolescence built in - e.g. mobiles etc. We need to start encouraging serious recycling of materials - either with a carrot - (refunds) or stick - companies made to recycle and pay the full cost of these products - including environmental. Then they will recycle as it will be cheaper. Get these products out of landfill/oceans/or just dumping etc and back into the supply chain.
  • JF
    Jennifer F.
    24 April 2019 @ 05:29
    In Australia we are able to invest in North Korea which has a huge rare earth minerals,black coal and gold.
  • LP
    Lionel P.
    23 April 2019 @ 11:38
    Excellent piece ! thank you
  • RE
    Richard E. | Contributor
    17 April 2019 @ 15:14
    Excellent piece. Very important to highlight not only the fragility of the rare earth market, but how, a blind and aggressive push into many 'green' technologies will have not only unintended consequences but perhaps even the opposite effect they intended.
  • DC
    Dan C.
    28 February 2019 @ 01:49
    Good video. My only feedback is I wish there was even more info provided. In the event of China shutting down supply how hard would it really be to ramp up production. Yes, permitting is hard and there are usually radioactive elements around the rare earths but if we really REALLY needed to get at it, I'm under the impression it's not actually that hard. Yes, there will be environmental compromise but at the end of the day most barriers are artificially imposed by the government. Is that true? I think so, but I honestly don't know for sure.
    • DC
      Dan C.
      28 February 2019 @ 01:50
      Apologies for the typos. I figured there'd be an edit button but I guess not...
    • KB
      Kieran B.
      2 March 2019 @ 15:08
      Assuming you already have a well-defined deposit (which could take years-decades on its own), you would still need to develop a mine plan which could take years (possible to circumvent, but could have disastrous consequences; see Rubicon minerals' Phoenix project for an example, they built the mine circumventing a few planning stages and then realized they completely misunderstood the orebody and their mill was completely useless and the grades weren't what was expected), and unless you have a resource that sits right on the surface (very rare), you still need to clear away all the waste rock in order to get to the ore (referred to as strip ratio) which can take some time depending on the shape of the deposit and how far underground it is. Building the mill and processing facilities can take years as well (longer for lower grade deposits where they need to be higher capacity to process more ore to get the same amount of minerals as a higher grade, lower tonnage mine), and can really only be started after you have the mine plan. Likely longer for REMs vs. other minerals/types of deposits that require less processing. So even if the government stood back completely from development, the process is still in the years to build a sustainable commercial mine.
    • DC
      Dan C.
      13 March 2019 @ 20:17
      Great info, thanks Kieran. Based on your response, yeah, USA has got to get more serious about having a domestic supply. Unfortunately I didn't see your reply earlier - I guess there's no notifications of reply on RealVision? That'd be nice to have.
  • DJ
    D J.
    12 March 2019 @ 06:55
    Excellent piece.
  • ml
    michael l.
    9 March 2019 @ 13:12
    Excellent work, RVTV team. Very informative. Seems to me that China has a card here to play in the trade dispute if Trump decideds to continue to escalate matters. Unfortunate for us that we let our industry fade away years ago.
  • SB
    Stewart B.
    5 March 2019 @ 13:34
    This was really interesting and genuinely new content. Thank you.
  • JB
    Jason B.
    5 March 2019 @ 10:27
    Excellant Work RV team
  • KC
    Kenneth C.
    4 March 2019 @ 17:13
    Green is Grey
  • V!
    Volatimothy !.
    4 March 2019 @ 14:02
    Space mining is next. Look at all the activity resurgence lately (Space X - Musk, Blue Origin - Bezos). Trump also just initiated a space force under US Air Force.
  • BM
    Bruce M.
    3 March 2019 @ 15:19
    An excellent overview of a topic that is largely ignored by the mainstream media.
  • PM
    Paul M.
    3 March 2019 @ 10:32
    As a large tooling supplier to Hitachi Magnetics in Edmore, MI, I witnessed the demise of the facility as the Chinese initially flooded the market with finished Ferrite magnets that were sold below cost of the raw materials. They then followed up doing the same with Samarium cobalt and Nickel neodymium (supermagnets) a few years later. The plant, with 500 employees later closed.
  • BP
    Bob P.
    2 March 2019 @ 23:32
    What a fun job for a journalist! Well done RV & Justine - heavy on facts, light on opinion.
  • WM
    Will M.
    2 March 2019 @ 17:40
    Excellent background information. Now a follow up about Rare Earth investment opportunities would put icing on the cake....
  • CS
    Colton S.
    1 March 2019 @ 20:42
    I love this tech series. Thanks Justine!
  • SS
    S S.
    27 February 2019 @ 21:38
    Well Japan found hundreds of years worth or rare earths in the Pacific. Just can't figure out a way to mine it and cheaply. As stated in the video it takes decades to get new mines up and running. Imagine how long it would take to extract from the ocean. Let's hope the Japanese figure out a way to do it. Just how the Japanese scientist invented a new solution in the video.
    • DK
      Daniel K.
      1 March 2019 @ 10:51
      Forget it - check the water depth
  • OS
    Otmar S.
    1 March 2019 @ 09:42
    Well done. Thx.
  • JY
    James Y.
    1 March 2019 @ 07:39
    I didn’t know any thing about the sector before this, so I can’t comment as to how accurate or unbiased it is. But for me, this piece was absolute quality! Well done Justine and RV!
  • RP
    Ron P.
    1 March 2019 @ 02:27
    Excellent Job! I know alot about the space but know alot more now
  • NR
    Nelson R.
    1 March 2019 @ 01:57
    Justine: China has done bad things with the world supply of rare earths. Justine: Finally a U.S based rare earths mine has reopened. Justine to mine director: So where is your product being shipped to after mining and processing? U.S rare earths mine director: China. Me: [spits out coffee].
    • RP
      Raoul P. | Founder
      1 March 2019 @ 02:19
      haha...yup, this is the world we live in.
  • RA
    Robert A.
    27 February 2019 @ 19:09
    Great material and a great production/presentation. Justine is really finding her stride now and has become a valuable resource for RV and all of us subscribers. Don’t know if everyone is aware of the incredible gestation of RV where employees were found and hired on commuter flights in the CI—you can’t make this stuff up! The RV Founders, and I do give a special hat tip to Raoul, had a Vision and raw, inexperienced, bright competent people wanted to be part of it. RV, with input from we subscribers, allowed these special young motivated people to flourish. There are many, many talented motivated people in the background that care deeply about RV, the content it puts out and especially about we, the Audience for the product. Whatever modicum of success I had in my businesses I chalked up to the simple mantra: “Find, Hire, Train and Motivate bright well meaning people”.....I didn’t need experience or credentials and only wanted highly motivated bright people who just wanted their shot @ the American Dream—give me the Tabula Rosa and I’ll do the rest. It is such a pleasure to see Justine’s work evolve. You go girl!
    • RP
      Raoul P. | Founder
      1 March 2019 @ 02:18
      This is everything. The journey is one of the subscribers and RV together, trying stuff but most of all trying to change how people understand finance by raising the bar in depth, breadth and engagement too. RV could not exist without our subscribers - from the obvious level but also because you all help and encourage us to grow and improve every day.
  • AP
    A P.
    27 February 2019 @ 19:11
    1. Amazing topic 2. Incredible Justine 3. Highly creative visualization & engaging 4. Fuck, RV, you keep rocking it.
    • RP
      Raoul P. | Founder
      1 March 2019 @ 02:13
      Well, thank you A.P! We are doing our best...
  • JD
    Jeremy D.
    28 February 2019 @ 19:04
    That look Justine gives at 8>45 was just classic! That's why she gets the big bucks!
    • JD
      Jeremy D.
      28 February 2019 @ 19:14
      12:15 into the clip, 8:45 remaining
  • DT
    Douglas T.
    28 February 2019 @ 19:05
    This was truly great. An important topic that has been neglected. But MSM (mainstream media), would NEVER go into this level of detail regardless of its importance. And in this case a deep dive is essential even for rudimentary understanding. FOr me, this is what RV is all about.
  • JB
    Jason B.
    28 February 2019 @ 06:43
    Lynas mines in Australia and then refines into rare earth oxides in Malaysia. And making REO is not high up in the value chain either. A lot more work is required. Japan does have somewhat of a value chain for rare earths, however, they still rely on the Chinese for raw supply. The other problem with Lynas' Australian mine and Mountain Pass is both mines are rare earth light focused mines. The percentage of dysprosium mined at both those mines relative to the other light rare earths mined is very low. The lights tend to be far more abundant in every deposit compared to the heavies. And the heavies are the ones worth the most
    • DT
      Douglas T.
      28 February 2019 @ 19:03
      "the heavies are the ones worth the most" Scarcity = Price
  • mr
    mike r.
    28 February 2019 @ 18:30
    Great storytelling again Justine. This segment is quickly becoming my favourite on RV, second only to Grant's interviews. Good work!
  • GS
    Gerold S.
    28 February 2019 @ 18:17
    Get Urs Gmür from Dolefin, Nyon Switzerland... he runs the Rare earth elements funds....
  • FS
    Felipe S.
    28 February 2019 @ 18:02
    that was excellent! thanks
  • RM
    R M.
    28 February 2019 @ 17:35
    Justine: Am enjoying this series, keep up the good work. Have a request for a future episode: Tim Cook has said he couldn't move assembly of the iPhone to the USA if he wanted to, because the engineering talent doesn't exist in the US. Is this true? How did we get here? Most importantly, what do we do about it? Seems like a big gap, especially with the recent marriage stress between the US and China.
    • RA
      Robert A.
      28 February 2019 @ 17:55
      Great idea RM.
  • IH
    Iain H.
    28 February 2019 @ 12:07
    Really great Justine. Thanks
  • JB
    Jason B.
    28 February 2019 @ 06:49
    Over, this was really good. I just made a few comments and suggestions. If I remember correctly, the Colorado School of Mining has a rare earth department with courses now that started only 5-6 years ago. I believe that that was the first rare earths specific mining department of its kind in the US. The other major problem is that the Chinese have a good amount of masters and PhD programs at their best universities for teaching the entire rare earth refining and innovation throughout the supply chain. The US is decades behind in that regard. China has thousands of rare earth value chain experts there. The US, etc does not.
    • JB
      Jason B.
      28 February 2019 @ 06:50
      *Overall, this was really good. I just made a few comments and suggestions. If I remember correctly, the Colorado School of Mining has a rare earth department with courses now that started only 5-6 years ago. I believe that that was the first rare earths specific mining department of its kind in the US. The other major problem is that the Chinese have a good amount of masters and PhD programs at their best universities for teaching the entire rare earth refining and innovation throughout the supply chain. The US is decades behind in that regard. China has thousands of rare earth value chain experts there. The US, etc does not.
  • JB
    Jason B.
    28 February 2019 @ 06:38
    There also used to be an enormous amount of smuggling of REOs out of China via the black market and it would make its way to other countries to get around their export quota. The CCP was obviously trying to crack down on this but it is a cat and mouse game between the CCP and the smugglers.
  • AA
    Alberto A.
    28 February 2019 @ 04:52
    Awesome! Another great investigation report with great production values. As MP materials finishes phase 2 it sounds like a great investment opportunity. But how? they are not public...yet.
  • ah
    ahmed h.
    28 February 2019 @ 04:23
  • JF
    Joseph F.
    28 February 2019 @ 02:41
  • CD
    Cheryl D.
    28 February 2019 @ 01:59
    great job Justine!!!!!!
  • tc
    thomas c.
    28 February 2019 @ 01:29
    I learned a lot. Wish I knew all this when I lost big on some RE investments. But that was before RV. Great job Justine.
  • JS
    John S.
    28 February 2019 @ 00:55
  • CA
    Craig A.
    27 February 2019 @ 23:34
    What was the first episode call? Thanks
    • PW
      Paul W.
      28 February 2019 @ 00:15
      It was called "Use as Intended" and it was released on January 29.
  • PG
    Philippe G.
    27 February 2019 @ 23:20
    Fantastic! Learned quite a bit!
  • JB
    Jason B.
    27 February 2019 @ 22:14
    I wrote an in depth research report on rare earths in 2010. China was willing to destroy their air, soil and water around their rare earths mines to bankrupt other REE miners in other countries (especially Mountain Pass) and gain a monopoly on mine supply and also the global value added supply chain for rare earths oxides, rare earth metals, rare earth alloys, rare earth powders and Rare Earth Permanent Magnet (Neodymium Iron Boron Magnets) technology. Japan has some of the value chain and Australia has Lynas producing mostly light REOs, but China still has a virtual monopoly on supply and also the value chain
  • TT
    Trenton T.
    27 February 2019 @ 21:47
    Very thought provoking!
  • HB
    Heini B.
    27 February 2019 @ 20:44
    Outstanding Justine
  • JP
    John P.
    27 February 2019 @ 20:25
    I love this and the previous one as a series. It’s a great adjunct to typical financial information and lighter content without being simplistic. I had no idea I drive by the only US rare earth mine multiple times each year.
  • JC
    Justin C.
    27 February 2019 @ 20:18
    Very interesting piece. It would be helpful to know what effect Japanese progress in this area will have, i.e. how relevant is this:
  • MN
    Maverick N.
    27 February 2019 @ 20:07
    Well done, Justin! A great introduction to a topic most in the investing business tend to neglect due to the nature of commodity cycles (& also the several PT Barnum like promoters in this space). I truly appreciate you reaching out to the Japanese inventor and emphasizing how relevant it is to invent/discover natural/synthetic substitutes for rare earth metals to minimize geopolitical risks and environmental damage. A continuation of this would be to look at Helium and US declaring it critical for national security in 2016. I can provide some pointers if need be.
  • DC
    Dave C.
    27 February 2019 @ 19:59
    Very timely - another wrinkle in the trade war / processing story here
  • MR
    MARK R.
    27 February 2019 @ 19:52
    hi Justine , nice article thank you. I would strongly encourage people to have a look at Vanadium (V / 23) It is a hard, silvery-grey, ductile, malleable transition metal. Today it's mainly used to produce specialty steel alloys such as high-speed tool steels and added to alloys to add strength. The most important industrial vanadium compound, vanadium pentoxide, is used as a catalyst for the production of sulfuric acid. and the vanadium redox battery (VRD) for energy storage has caught investors attention in the 'off-grid' power (storage) capabilities. It certainly has 'bubble potential' - the china vanadium pentoxide flake idx currently 18ish but seen 2018 high of 35. theres tonnes of small cap miners out there (profitable) that have good command of the supply chain and can see this as an alt metal to watch for the next 2-5yrs or so! thanks. (BUSHVELD MINERALS (ldn) is a company i own).
  • DD
    Daniel D.
    27 February 2019 @ 19:41
    Very good program! As a career metal head, I'm always pleased at any education of the general public who is usually so critical of an industry that supplies the materials so they can have stuff.
  • SS
    Steven S.
    27 February 2019 @ 19:14
    crazy coincidence that overnight CME futures had a "glitch" shut down at precisely the same exact time India preformed air strikes on Pakistan.......managed market anyone?? no it couldn't be.
  • WS
    William S.
    27 February 2019 @ 18:53
    Great micro and macro plays here.
  • WS
    William S.
    27 February 2019 @ 18:51
    Great presentation. More videos that disclose the underlying issues in the supply chain is fascinating. More.
  • JS
    Jason S.
    27 February 2019 @ 14:27
    Awesome video, Justine. Apparently Tesla doesn't use rare earths in its batteries, according to Elon Musk. But then again...who can believe a word that he says! It seems like the modern day saying isn't, whoever holds the gold makes the rules. It's whoever holds the rare earths!
    • JU
      Justine U.
      27 February 2019 @ 16:40
      Thanks Jason for bringing this up! Tesla is actually a major buyer of rare earths, but they're used for the motors, not the batteries. Here's some more info on it:
  • AH
    Alex H.
    27 February 2019 @ 16:33
    Very interesting!
  • EW
    Ethan W.
    27 February 2019 @ 15:21
    What ever you did here, do it again. touring companies and investigative work like this needs to happen more.
  • SS
    Sam S.
    27 February 2019 @ 14:23
    Rare Quality Presentation!
  • XP
    Xavier P.
    27 February 2019 @ 14:18
    Very good educational video: issues are well explained, and the video is dynamic and interesting. Real vision has nailed this series with the format + Justine.
  • OT
    Omar T.
    27 February 2019 @ 13:48
    Another great video by Justine Underhill !