During the past 15 years, China has supplied more than 80% of the worlds rare earths as concentrates, intermediate products and chemicals.
In 2011, China produced over 95% of the worlds total rare earth supply.
It achieved this dominance partly through a combination of rapid increases in domestic production, a steep decline in rare earths output from the rest of the world, competitive pricing and illegal mining.
But Chinas rare earths industry is changing. Owing to the increase in domestic demand, the Chinese government has gradually reduced both export quotas for the minerals and the number of export permits available to national and foreign mining companies.
In 2006, the government allowed 47 domestic rare earth producers and traders and 12 Sino-foreign companies to export rare earths products. In 2009, this was cut to 23 domestic, and 9 Sino-foreign producers.