A research report, Rare Earth Elements Markets Worldwide, presents an in-depth analysis of the production, market, development, applications, and trends for rare earth elements, or REEs. The 17 different rare earth elements are used in a variety of applications to make devices lighter, stronger, more efficient, and easier to use. For example, REE’s are used in production of high magnetic flux permanent magnets (PM) that increase the efficiency of wind generators while significantly reducing their weight. In electric vehicles, say the authors, the materials increase battery capacity and reduce weight. Recent applications are being developed on a routine basis, such as for the treatment of water and for magnetic refrigeration.
Contrary to their name, rare earth elements are not so rare, says the report. They are found in abundance worldwide and are more common than tin in some cases and almost as abundant as copper. All rare earth elements are far more abundant that silver or gold. However, to date only a relatively few deposits have been found with sufficient REE concentrations to make mining them economical. The United States produced most of the world’s REE up until about 1985, at which time China began to become a major supplier. At this writing, China produces about 97% of the world’s rare earths. Problems stemming from this near single source include supply constraints, reduced shipments and outright embargos, environmental problems, and rising prices. Since the 1950’s there was little exploration for new REE sources (except in China) but many countries and mine operators are now seeking new REE deposits and developing existing ones.
This report is said to provide a comprehensive assessment of rare-earth-element production, demand, applications, and economic and cost considerations that have limited production and exploration for new sources, their growth over the past several years, potential opportunities for additional growth, and an assessment of developing technologies, alternatives, and market trends. The report projects REE growth through 2020 and discusses economic conditions, environmental impacts, business demand, stakeholder concerns, and government activities as they affect growth rates. The report ($4,950) also profiles producers of rare earths and the strategies they have adopted to maximize growth and profitability.
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