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China to Lead the World in Rare Earth Patents

Posted by: Chris Na 2021-11-01 Comments Off on China to Lead the World in Rare Earth Patents

China to Lead the World in Rare Earth Patents

Category: tungsten’s News
Published on Sunday, 17 January 2021 17:24

The number of rare earth technology patents owned by China will exceed the US and other countries in the world by 2021. The foreign policy of the US media stated that before 1980, 99% of the world's heavy rare earth elements (REEs) were by-products produced by the United States in the process of mining titanium, zirconium and phosphate ores.

In 1980, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revised the definition of nuclear weapons raw materials. Nuclear weapons raw materials generally refer to materials containing uranium or thorium. Previously, these heavy rare earth by-products were not regarded as nuclear materials, which means that they can be easily sold and processed into high-value materials.

After this revision, the production of REEs was suddenly subject to regulations on approval, supervision, handling and responsibility. Considering the additional costs and responsibilities, the United States and other IAEA member states ultimately chose not to produce or refine REEs. And the U.S. rare earth production declined.

On the other hand, China was not restricted by the regulations of the IAEA at that time, and could rely on the United States for rare earth production and processing. At the same time, the U.S. Congress granted China the most-favored-nation trade status. The door to the exchange of goods, knowledge, and technology between the two countries was opened. Western countries also transferred related technologies to our country to make quick money.

Since then, companies in the United States, Japan and France have also transferred their refining and metallurgical technology intellectual property rights to China. Coupled with Chinese cheap labor and large government subsidies, all of this has reduced the production cost of REEs. In the end, our country has taken the lead in the rare earth industry.

By 2021, the number of rare earth technology patents owned by China will exceed the number of patents in the United States and other countries in the world combined. In sharp contrast, the United States has not had basic REEs production capacity for more than 10 years, and Japan also ended production in 2018.

US President Trump issued an executive order at the end of September this year, saying that he would promote the production of REEs in the United States. The U.S. Congress recently introduced a proposal to return rare earth production to the United States, suggesting that the U.S. government can directly provide large-scale subsidies to metal materials and magnet manufacturers so that REEs can be produced in the United States.

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