Science Matters: The Case of Rare Earth Elements

Goals and Recommendations

Recommendations for the Ethical Production of Rare Earth Elements

Manufacturers Group

Prepared in Advance of the Summit

Main Concerns of the Manufacturers Group:

  • Maintaining a consistent supply of rare earths is essential for manufacturing many valuable products. Producing rare earths in multiple countries in different parts of the world would make the supply chain more stable.

  • While current prices for rare earth metals are relatively low, prices have spiked in the past when supplies of metals seemed to be unstable. Manufacturers should weigh the option of paying more now to ensure stable prices over the longer term.

  • Recycling could be an ethical source of rare earth metals in the future. Manufacturers need help from activists, consumers, and producers to make recycling viable and cost-effective.

  • Transparency about the mining and production process of rare earth elements should be ensured to help manufacturers know they are buying metals that have been legally mined and produced in ethical ways.

  • Activists and consumers are becoming more aware of the harms that have been caused by rare earth metal production. Protests and boycotts centered on rare earth production could hurt manufacturers. A credible Sustainability Seal could help show that manufacturers are working to make things better.

Recommendations Based on Manufacturers Group Concerns:

  • Producers, manufacturers, consumers, and activists should work together to support establishing new sources of rare earth production in different parts of the world. Production in more countries means supplies are less vulnerable to disruption.

  • Producers and manufacturers should follow all laws in the countries where they operate.

  • Programs to gather discarded consumer products and recover rare earth elements from waste should be supported so that manufacturers have the option to buy recycled rare earth metals.

  • Transparency must be enforced. Producers must track where and how rare earth metals are mined and separated. The chain of custody must be documented and available for manufacturers to see before they buy raw materials.

  • Reducing pollution is important but so is keeping the cost of raw materials reasonable. Producers should use the best technologies practicable to control waste.

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