Rare Earth Metals 

Mains Marks Booster     5th August 2023        


  • Rare earth elements or metals comprise a group of 17 chemical elements in the periodic table. These elements include the 15 lanthanides, along with scandium and yttrium, which are often found in the same ore deposits as the lanthanides and share similar chemical properties. Despite their classification, most of these elements are not actually rare. One of the rare earths, promethium, is radioactive. 

Key Points:

  • They are integral to a range of technologies including electronics, healthcare, and defense.
  • The demand for these metals is growing due to a global focus on green energy.
  • India has the third-largest reserves of rare earth minerals globally.
  • China holds a significant monopoly over the global rare earths market.
  • Indian industries have proposed a mission to diversify sources of strategic raw materials.
  • Despite its reserves, India only contributes 1% to global rare earth output.
  • China used to produce 90% of the world's rare earth but now produces 60%.
  • Exploration in India is conducted by the Bureau of Mines and the Department of Atomic Energy. 

Way Forward

  • India should learn from advanced economies' strategies to secure their mineral needs and consider participating in multinational fora focused on critical mineral supply chains.
  • Existing partnerships such as the Quad and BIMSTEC could be utilized to foster dialogues on rare earths.
  • Top-level decision-making within the government is necessary to strategize the creation of vertically integrated supply chains for green technology manufacturing.
  • Establishing a new Department for Rare Earths (DRE) can play a vital role as a regulator and enabler for businesses in the rare earths sector. 


India must take proactive steps to reduce its dependence on rare earth metal imports, particularly from China. This includes establishing a dedicated Department for Rare Earth, promoting private-sector mining, and fostering partnerships with other countries. By leveraging its rare earth resources and developing robust supply chains, India can boost domestic production, support its climate change goals, and enhance national security in the long term. 

output themes