97 per cent of global production uses rare earth elements from China - this means that the world is more dependent on these elements than on oil from the Middle East. This development is significant because rare earth elements, even if they are mostly used in small amounts, are of great strategic importance. They are not only a key part of military technologies like guided missiles and radar; they also are used in everyday high-tech gadgets like hard drives, plasma screen displays and mp3 players. They are particularly important in environmental technologies, being an important component of catalysers, wind power plants, energy saving light bulbs and electric motors. With the increasing importance of rare earth elements, the question is raised as to which risks and opportunities arise for consumers and producers in relation to these raw materials – especially in relation to China. The current status quo is analysed via a case study and four scenarios, which then form the basis upon which various development paths to the year 2030 are outlined.