How a Chinese Restriction on’Rare Earths’Could Threaten Apple
As trade tensions persist，a potential weapon in China’s arsenal has emerged:Access to rare earth metals，a critical component of many technology products.~
China is the primary source of rare earths for manufacturers around the world.And this week，speculation emerged in the Chinese press that，at the very least，the notion of slapping restrictions on rare earth exports is under evaluation by Chinese authorities should U.S.-China relations deteriorate further.Undesirable ripple effects for other trading partners are a likely disincentive from doing so–but still，restrictions on rare earth exports could be bad news for Apple（AAPL-Get Report）and other U.S.firms，such as automakers and other manufacturers，that use the metals in their products.
Apple shares closed down.38%on the Nasdag Friday to $178.97.They are up 15.7%so far this year.
What are Rare Earths？
Rare earths are a category of 17 elements found in the earth’s crust，which have a unique set of properties that can make products more durable and efficient.That has made them critical ingredients in a wide range of modern technologies–electronic devices，batteries，lighting equipment，lasers，and much more.As just one example，an iPhone contains several components that use rare earths:Cameras，speakers，taptic engines，and receivers.
China’s Rare Earth Leverage
China is the world’s leading supplier of rare earths，accounting for 95%of the world output of rare earth minerals worldwide according to the U.S.Geological Survey.Adamas Intelligence，a research firm that tracks metals and minerals，noted in a report that Chinese exports of rare earths increased by 91.7%between 2014 and 2018.Likewise，demand for rare earths is alsoincreasing alongside rising demand for electric car batteries，according to the minerals consultancy Roskill.
Rare earths are mined in other parts of the world，but for a variety of reasons–including ample natural supply in China，production quotas imposed by the Chinese government over time，supply chain relationships and other factors–it’s wound up with a virtual monopoly on rare earth production.
How Much Does Apple Rely on Rare Earths？
Apple uses rare earths in various products components–but unlike some other materials，rare earth are used in such small amounts that recycled forms aren’t widely available，Apple has said.That means they ultimately need to be mined.
Apple has made some efforts in recent years to distance itself from mining–which，in addition to any potential trade war risks，is fraught with ethical and environmental problems.In an annual environmental impact report that Apple publishes，it reiterated a goal of ending its reliance on mining at some point，but as of right now，those efforts are largely limited to recycling and reuse of a limited set of materials，such as aluminum，cobalt and tin.
Apple has a disassembly robot that can recover components that contain rare earth metals–but cannot extract the minerals itself.The technology simply isn’t there yet，Apple wrote in its latest environmental report.It appears that for now，Apple is a long ways off from ending its dependence on fresh rare earth metals.
What Could a Restriction Mean for Apple？
Right now，it’s difficult to put a fine point on what the exact consequences would be for Apple should China enforce restrictions on rare earth exports.But given Apple’s highly complex supply chain entanglements in China，it’s probable that Apple investors would feel some pain even if the precise financial implications aren’t fuly understood.
Throughout late 2018 and into the first quarter，trade tensions weren’t kind to Apple’s stock，with shares plummeting close to 40%between early October 2018 and the beginning of this year.During that time，the deteriorating trade relationship between the U.S.and China manifested in at least two ways:One，through uncertainty around whether tariffs would be imposed on Apple products specifically，or lead to new costs in its supply chain；and secondly，a negative impact on Chinese spending that hurt iPhone sales.Should rare earths become a new casualty of the trade war，investors in Apple and other U.S.tech firms may need to grapple with fresh anxieties.
With Apple planning a new line of iPhones for a fall release，any threat of disruption to its production process could be particularly high risk，Goldman Sachs analysts suggested in a note this week.
“We believe Apple is near its annual rapid ramp of new iPhone production to prepare for new device launches in the fall so even a short term action affecting production could have longer term consequences for the company，”the analysts wrote.
scritchy5 days ago
It isn’t just Apple.Rare earth metals are used heavily in aerospace and defense.Having China as the primary supplier of them was identified as an issue ages ago.
The world will be learning a hard lesson on relying on a single source supply chain they can’t control.
Looks like we better find alternatives then.
through there are other countries that mine”rare earth”minerals it’s the refining process that becomes the problem since it is not eco friendly..…the U.S.sends what raw material is mined here to china to be processed because of that..so..…it’s not necessarily that china will stopshipment/sales of minerals they mine，but it would be the processing of the minerals for other countries that they can halt and force those countries to pollute themselves in order to get necessary minerals..…so its pretty much an advantage to china..
It is time to review the national security implication of rare earth是时候重新审视稀土对国家安全的影响了
Rare Earth？I saw them back in 73 at the Arie Crown Theater in Chicago.Awesome-It was the first concert I ever went to as a kid.
Jes5 days ago
Rare earths can be obtained via other sources other than China.
I am not surprised Chinese will ban rare earth export to US until Huawei issue is resolved.Trump has gone too far with Huawei.Chinese probably has no problem of US and other countries not using Huawei as 5G supplier，but banning Huawei of using Google Android and Windows is other matter.It is a malicious act to damage a major US tech competitor.It is time for Trump and China to sit down and works out a peaceful solution of how to INTEGRATE both countries in world economy！！
For the Last time.Rare Earths are found at the end of the periodic table of elements.Most of these minerals are not”rare”.They are available in nature in abundance.Australia，NKorea，Russia，Afghanistan，Brazil，Canada，America all have them.Here is the issue.Industrialized nations have some”humanitarian mining laws”and equivalents to the EPA，which makes mining these minerals very expensive.Step 2，smelting them，or refining them is also costly with out sl ave labor of China，and NK，and Afghanistan.Here is the main flux point.If China withholds these earths，or restricted them，the price would raise drastically，therefore；other countries would jump up and down and the mining would begin！China has 80%market share，and is only defending NK due to their earths.If the mining starts，their market share drops like a rock in water.China will do anything to keep that market share.Why do you think Apple hasn’tbeen touched yet？
China controls the majority of Rare Earth elements around the world with the only 2 large deposits that are known being untapped and would take several years to even get the process started and several more to get the facilities to process it.China could easily strangle the western world just because of rare earth elements.
Troll4 days ago
The rare earth facility in Mountain Pass California resumed operating in January of 2018.There isn’t going to be a problem even if things are going to be shifting.Fact is，they’ve already been shifting and this isn’t going to be an issue.
Seeing how Apple pays no U.S.federal taxes what lose is this to me？
If China adopted US EPA rules it wouldn’t mine any rare earths at all.China doesn’t have moreor better ores than anyone else，just a willingness not to factor cleaning up after the mining operations into the price of the commodity.
Apple should invest in manufacturing its own rare earths.The US did it way before we dealt with the Chinese.It’s not rocket science.
As soon as Trump heard of the rare earth threat，he immediately said that the restrictions on Huawei could be lifted under a trade deal.Thats what’s normally called，an ace card.Our tech companies could grind to a near halt till alternate supplies could be found.
None5 days ago
For all intents and purposes，Apple is a Chinese company.They were lost a long time ago.Their customers are cult-like，similar to leader-worship in China.
It won’t as rare earth is found everywhere.
China tightening its rare earths supply would be great.Thing is rare earths are not just available in China but China having no real enforced mining and environmental laws along with dirt cheap labor costs makes it a great place for*cheap*whatever it is.However cheap doesn’t mean anything if access is hindered or blocked in any way and the US has massive amounts of rare earths in the west without even taking to the oceans surrounding the US.China lockingrare earths down would spur US growth of its own rare earth mining and likely use national security on the matter which could also be used to limit the US from exporting said rare earths to other countries as well.This would have numerous negative effects against China as well as potentially bring high tech manufacturers to the US to have access to said rare earths.
Albert4 days ago
Chinese restriction on rare earths will threaten not only Apple but Intel，Google，ARM，Samsung，LG，GM，Ford，Toyota，etc，and basically any companies that make telecom and computer hardware and batteries（electric vehicles）.You Americans better start digging.
It’s about time Apple do something to help the US worker-all they’ve done is create jobs for China and stuff their pockets with cash.
Facepalm，China is the primary producer because they can do it cheaper and with fewer environmental protections but not only do we have a lot of rare-earths in stockpile，we also have a tremendous amount sitting underground in the Western US.There are things to worry about in this trade war but this isn’t among them.
Rare Earth metals are all around the world，the first major producer was in fact is the USA，it was closed because China produced the materials at cutthroat prices that US miners can’t compete.Even US processing of rare Earth minerals stopped and eventually bought by the Chinese including the technology in processing the products.Eventually technology was transferred to China and the US plant closed so now technology and raw materials supply is in China.Any if Chinese Government stops selling rare Earth minerals to US，they will find a way around it and they can restart mining their own source.
nothing to sayyesterday
Rare earth metals are not extremely rare..…but the Chinese can refine them because the don’t worry about the associated pollution.If the need arose..the US could find a way to do it.
Had they actually offered 25-50 dollars for every phone return they would have unlimited rare earth materials.As they would recoup what they used.Well not unlimited but a lot more.A single use phone is crazy.You should have to return your old phone just like a car battery for a core fee.
“Rare Earth”elements are not rare-China which was the cheapest source of*rare earth*raw ore is now capping the export of raw*Rare Earth*ore-but Apple products are so over priced that Apple can buy their raw*rare earth*ore elsewhere like in the USA or Peru and still keep the same prices and make a whooping abount of profit such that nobody would notice.
Timothy3 days ago
More biased，shoddy reporting.The Mountain Pass mine in California has all the rare earth metals the US needs.And China has always restricted sales.The only reason there might be a shortage is because people in the US would rather pollute China than CA，ie，hypocrisy is the only problem here.
Brazile and India combined have as much rare earth metals as China，and then you can add Russia and may others.There are sources.US has one mine and over time should restart copper mining and exploration to acquire independence like it has with oil now.
Russell W H20 hours ago
THE SKY IS FALLING！THE SKY IS FALLING！I guess this journalist doesn’t realized that the U.S.has deposits of rare earth metals in Idaho.However，let’s try to use China’s supply first.What reporting！Not！
Brazil and India have supplies equal to China，and a few other countries Russia and Austrailia and mining countries.US has one active mine but fact is rare earth metals are more common that their name implies.The US should subsidize some mines from a strategic standpoint but there are ways the US can also retaliate as well as Europe if there is a threat by China and there are other sources.Prices would rise and that would create more mining and supply although would take some time.China cut off Japan a number of years ago but that backfired.
China would not restrict rare earths trades.However，China would have the security of rare earths warranted for peace deployments.
We should tax all non-renewable resources，from fossil fuels to rare earth elements.Taxes on productive endeavors（working and investing）make the economy less efficient，but taxes on non-renewable resources actually make the economy MORE efficient.