So China is squeezing its customers for as much money as possible... do you think that if a US company sold rare earth minerals right now that they wouldn't be squeezing their customers just as much?
One more point... these rare earth minerals are mostly used in motors.
The use of rare earth magnets is *not* strictly required in these motors, they are mostly just used to make motors smaller and lighter. So, the way to compete with the Chinese is to open up a can of American ingenuity on their ass and create a coil magnet that is just as powerful using coils of carbon nanotubes or some damn thing. Or maybe find some ceramic-based material that better than ferrite.
Or another idea... just make big-ass motors stylish. This would just take some good ol 'merican marketing.
I can just see it now... a Prius with a big-ass magnet sticking up out of the hood - with lots of chrome on it. Nobody's gonna want those puny Chinese motors anymore!