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The Future Global Supply of Rare Earth Elements

WHERE ON EARTH?



CHINA'S MONOPOLY ON RARE EARTH ELEMENTS AND THE FUTURE GLOBAL SUPPLY



Up until the mid-1980s, the United States was the lead global producer of rare earth elements--materials that power everything from laptops to hybrid cars, and have come to define our high-tech lives. Now, the nation is 100% dependent on imports of these elements and China is the primary supplier. What does that domination resemble and how will it impact global supply?



WHAT ARE RARE EARTH ELEMENTS?



There are currently 17 rare earth elements (REE). Although relatively abundant, rare earth deposits take longer to find because they aren't as concentrated in areas as other elements. Additionally, the mining process for these materials is more extensive and costly than other elements.



RARE EARTH MATERIALS ARE VALUED FOR THEIR MAGNETIC PROPERTIES, LUMINESCENCE, AND STRENGTH IN MILITARY, MEDICAL, HIGH-TECH AND CLEAN-ENERGY SECTORS. COMMON APPLICATIONS INCLUDE:

FLUORESCENT LIGHTS

WIND TURBINES

SOLAR PANELS

RADAR SYSTEMS

LASERS

MEDICAL IMAGING

ELECTRONICS

HYBRID CAR BATTERIES



TOP SUPPLIERS IN THE WORLD: THEN AND NOW



- PRODUCTION IN METRIC TONS -



(IN THOUSANDS)

200

190

180

170

160

150

140

130

120

110

100

90

80

70

60

50

40

30

20

10



HISTORICAL AND PROJECTED GLOBAL PRODUCTION OF RARE EARTH ELEMENTS (1950-2014)



OTHER

U.S.

CHINA

1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2014(Projected)



Together, just 4 countries mine the majority of the world's supply of rare earth elements. China, which produced 130,000 metric tons in 2010, dwarfs all other production yields by claiming 97% of the share.



SHARE OF GLOBAL RARE EARTH ELEMENT PRODUCTION

Chine 97%

India 2%

Brazil .42%

Malaysia .27%

Other .31 %



FUTURE AVAILABILITY



The proliferation of high-tech and clean-energy products has boosted demand for more rare earth elements.



GLOBAL DEMAND IN 2010: 136,100 METRIC TONS



ESTIMATED GLOBAL DEMAND IN 2015: UP TO 210,000 METRIC TONS



However, China recently put a unilateral restriction on exports to preserve resources, causing prices to soar and heightening concern among dependent importers.



Thanks to the slow development of new mines and dwindling global reserves of rare earth elements, the U.S. Geological Survey predicts that we may soon be unable to meet future demand in the high-tech and clean-energy sectors.

The Future Global Supply of Rare Earth Elements

shared by Column Five Media on May 07, 2013 in Environment

The Future Global Supply of Rare Earth Elements

shared by Column Five Media on May 07, 2013 in Environment

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Up until the mid-1980s, the United States was the lead global producer of rare earth elements — materials that are used to make the technology that powers everything from laptops to hybrid cars — ...
Rank: 153 of 2519 in Environment

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