For a resource to be a resource means that it has value. If it has value and there is very little of it, it will become very valuable. That increase in value will itself prompt others to attempt to cash in on it. Exploration, innovation, creation, whatever the mechanism, the very scarcity of a resource ensures that the resource will never “go extinct”.
So it is with rare earth materials. As Wired reports, China had a “monopoly” on rare earths until it didn’t, and it lost its “monopoly” exactly because it had a “monopoly” and began charging higher rates.
The free market – even when it’s not really that free, as in the case of Chinese suppliers adopting a two-tiered pricing structure – is a wonderful thing. One of the wonderful things about the free market is that it ensures that we’ll NEVER run out of resources.