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China’s Rare Earths Production Forecasting and Sustainable Development Policy Implications

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Institute of Software Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China
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Energy Research Institute, National Development and Reform Commission, Beijing 10038, China
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Department of New Energy Science and Engineering, School of Energy and Power Engineering, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430074, China
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Intelligent Control Technology Branch of China Coal Research Institute, Beijing 100013, China
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State Key Laboratory for Geomechanics and Deep Underground Engineering, China University of Mining and Technology (Beijing), Beijing 100083, China
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Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
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University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
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Institute of Economics, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Vincenzo Torretta
Sustainability 2017, 9(6), 1003; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9061003
Received: 19 March 2017 / Revised: 2 June 2017 / Accepted: 5 June 2017 / Published: 10 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Sustainability and Applications)
Because of their unique physical and chemical properties, Rare earth elements (REEs) perform important functions in our everyday lives, with use in a range of products. Recently, the study of China’s rare earth elements production has become a hot topic of worldwide interest, because of its dominant position in global rare earth elements supply, and an increasing demand for rare earth elements due to the constant use of rare earth elements in high-tech manufacturing industries. At the same time, as an exhaustible resource, the sustainable development of rare earth elements has received extensive attention. However, most of the study results are based on a qualitative analysis of rare earth elements distribution and production capacity, with few studies using quantitative modeling. To achieve reliable results with more factors being taken into consideration, this paper applies the generic multivariant system dynamics model to forecast China’s rare earth elements production trend and Hubbert peak, using Vensim software based on the Hubbert model. The results show that the peak of China’s rare earth elements production will appear by 2040, and that production will slowly decline afterwards. Based on the results, the paper proposes some policy recommendations for the sustainable development of China’s—and the world’s—rare earth elements market and rare earth-related industries. View Full-Text
Keywords: rare earths; sustainable development; production forecast; system dynamics model; policy recommendations rare earths; sustainable development; production forecast; system dynamics model; policy recommendations
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Wang, X.; Yao, M.; Li, J.; Zhang, K.; Zhu, H.; Zheng, M. China’s Rare Earths Production Forecasting and Sustainable Development Policy Implications. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1003.

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