Most of the world is dependent on China to supply rare earths as key raw materials used in many of the latest technologies from military hardware to electric cars, but China's Ministry of Commerce is warning that its massive supply of rare earths could be exhausted in just 15 - 20 years. Although China accounts for almost all the global production of rare earth elements, its dominance is a consequence of economics and government regulation, not geology, writes Ed Crooks in Washington. Rare earth production outside
“China is not the only country that has these deposits, but it has been carrying the lion’s share of the supply in more than a decade, at the cost of quickly depleting its own resources and hurting its environment,” Chao said.
From 1965 until the mid-1980s, the
Legislative proposals H.R. 6160 (Dahlkemper) H.R. 4866 (Coffman) and S. 3521(Murkowski) have been introduced to support domestic production of REEs, because of congressional concerns over access to rare earth raw materials and downstream products used in many national security applications and clean energy technologies. The House approved H.R. 6160 on September 29, 2010, by a vote of 325-98.
There are 17 rare earth elements (REEs), 15 within the chemical group called lanthanides, plus yttrium and scandium. The lanthanides consist of the following: lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, and lutetium. Rare earths are moderately abundant in the earth’s crust, some even more abundant than copper, lead, gold, and platinum.
Spurred by economic growth and increased consumer demand,
So the projections of the wind industry that China could achieve 160-250 Gigawatts of wind power by 2020 would put even more strain on rare earth supplies unless there are different wind energy designs that use something other than neodymium magnets or use less of them.
Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry outlined five main areas of focus, including speeding development of rare earth alternatives, turning Japan into a major global center for rare earth recycling and helping manufacturers install equipment to reduce rare earth consumption. The government will also support Japanese companies in acquiring concession rights to rare earth mines outside of
Rare Earth Companies