The “Rare Earths Elements in High-Tech Industries: Market Analysis and Forecasts amid China’s Trade Embargo” report from The Information Network has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com’s offering.
Rare earth elements (REE) are a group of 15-17 elements comprising the lanthanides (atomic numbers 57-71) plus yttrium and scandium. Rare earths have a number of specific optical, magnetic and catalytic properties which drive demand across a wide range of applications. However, by volume, permanent magnets and catalysts account for more than half of global demand. The weighting towards permanent magnets is even higher when looked at on a value perspective, with some estimates that the application accounted for over 90% of rare earth demand in 2020. As such, it is the key driver of the market.
The structural shift to the green economy is a significant driver of our bullish outlook on rare earth prices. In particular, an increasing shift to electric vehicles (EV) is expected to drive a significant increase in demand for rare earths, particularly neodymium. Adding 2kg of REE in the form of a rare earth electric vehicle drive results in motor efficiency 2-5% higher than alternatives, saving energy over its lifetime. Being more efficient, the target range for an EV is achieved with a smaller, lighter and cheaper battery, which is critical given the battery represents around 50% of the cost of an EV.
The RE supply chain encompasses everything from mining and separation through to alloying, metal making and eventual manufacturing in catalysts, magnets etc. While mining is relatively straightforward, separation of concentrate to oxide is not, reflecting both the financial and technical hurdles of separation, plus its environmental impacts. As a result, the vast majority of LREE separation is done in China, with the notable exception of Lynas’ Malaysian facility and soon-to-be commissioned MP Material’s facility. All HREE separation is done in China. This monopoly on separation has led to China’s domination of downstream metal, alloy and magnet making, and while countries like the U.S might like to change that, China’s status reflects over two decades of investment and an undeniable market leader position in terms of rare earth reserves. In the next section, we cover global reserves, mine supply, key producers and projects, plus some of the key magnet makers.