The government in Beijing has made a number of gestures suggesting that it could restrict the export of rare earths to the US.
These threats have met with some skepticism among market sources, but they have also pushed up the prices of a number of critical rare earth commodities.
The US Department of Defense is now actively seeking new sources for these elements, which have a wide range of applications in the defense and hi-tech industries.
And a number of sources have suggested to Fastmarkets that other strategic metals could be entangled in the trade dispute, including antimony.
“When they talk about rare earths… they don’t just refer to the [standard list of] 17 elements but also materials that are critical to the US, and these include several minor metals,” a European trader said. “If there is any kind of export restriction,...