China dominates the market for rare earths—the arcane metals that are vital in an array of technology products—from iPhones [made by Apple] to wind turbines. When China began to limit exports, prices for the metals and the stocks skyrocketed.
Right now, none of the rare earth companies outside of China are ready to bring new material to market any time soon. What's more, only two are on schedule to do it before 2015.
If China continues to limit exports, and demand continues to grow, the rest of the world is looking at a significant shortage until these companies can get online.
That's why there's a global rush right now not only to find quality rare earth deposits, but also to find ways to accelerate the process.
That, however, is not an easy proposition. There are feasibility studies, huge amounts of testing, permit applications, costs in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
It is not a case of a eureka find and then instant processing—and profiting.
CNBC decided to look into a basket of names and handicap which ones are in the best position to mine rare earths—and profit from them.
Molycorp and Lynas are the two best-known names in the space. Molycorp is the only U.S.-based company, and it expects the mine at Mountain Pass, Calif., to begin producing in the second half of 2012.Page 1 of 3 | Next Page