At a time when both the global supply chain crisis and U.S.-China relations hang hotly in the balance, China has announced an important decision that threatens to affect both matters significantly. Today, the Wall Street Journal reports that China is planning to create a new rare earth mining company that will be owned by the state. While there’s no question that the forming of such a company will directly affect rare earth stocks, so far the reactions from the sector have been mixed.
What’s Happening With Rare Earth Stocks
The rare earth sector has been an interesting one to follow this year, particularly as the electric vehicle (EV) boom has highlighted a new market for its companies. The news out of China today hasn’t done much to affect Nevada-based MP Materials (NYSE:MP), a company that has seen more than its fair share of turbulence this past year but has remained overall in the green for most of it. As of this writing, MP stock is up 2.16% for the day, although it has declined slightly from the peak it saw this morning. While it’s down more than 6% for the week, the stock is in the green for the month by more than 2%.
In a state not too far away, though, things aren’t looking so rosy. Texas Mineral Resources Corp (OTCMKTS: TMRC) has seen its shares fall by more than 4% today, demonstrating a fairly turbulent pattern. Despite being up by more than 12% for the week, TMC is down for the month by almost 19%.
Many miles away in Australia, a similar company is experience similar patterns. Lynas Rare Earths (OTCMKTS:LYSCF) is down by more than 2% for the day with losses for the week just shy of that figure. For the month, though, the small stock has seen shares rise by more than 18%.
Why It Matters
China’s new firm, titled China Rare Earth Group, will be based in the country’s southern province of Jiangxi, an area rich in resources. It will be built through the merging of assets of several prominent state-owned mining firms. According to WSJ, part of the mindset behind this massive industry consolidation is the goal of gaining the clout necessary to “undercut Western efforts to dominate critical technologies.”
For a company like MP Materials, there will very likely be negative implications if the firm is indeed constructed. The company has emphasized that its goals involve helping restore the rare earth supply chain and helping reduce the sector’s heavy dependence on China. The international economic superpower that MP has focused on challenging is about to get considerably stronger and more powerful. That’s bad news for MP and most other rare earth stocks.
While some reports have framed it as a company well-positioned to accomplish an important task, the picture painted for investors hasn’t always been so positive. In October 2021, a report from Grizzly Research staked the claim that the company had issued unattainable projections. While the stock was down during that month, it’s been rising fairly steadily since. Earlier this year, InvestorPlace’s Joseph Nograles touted the upside potential he saw in MP stock as a key component of the emerging EV market.
What It Means
As TRMC and LYSCF trade at much lower levels than MP, it’s hard to gauge just how much they stand to be affected. What is clear, though, is that China is clearly furthering its quest to dominate the section of the global supply chain that concerns strategic metals. The construction of a state-owned giant to help the country gain further control of highly valuable rare earth materials certainly won’t do any favors for the U.S.
This story is certainly worth watching as it unfolds, but this is likely not the time for a bullish play on rare earth stocks.
On the date of publication, Samuel O’Brient did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.