Overview on Rare Earths
Rare earth elements (“REE”), sometimes referred to as the rare earth metals, are a group of 17 chemically similar metallic elements. Despite their name, rare earths are relatively plentiful in the Earth’s crust. However, due to their geochemical properties, rare earths are not commonly found in sufficiently concentrated and economically viable forms.
Traditionally the group of rare earth elements is furthermore sub-divided into two categories, these being light rare earth elements (“LREE”) and heavy rare earth elements (“HREE”). The largest application where rare earths are used is high performance magnets. This represents app. 30% of the global rare earths market and is expected to enjoy stronger growth than rare earths in general, as hybrid and electric vehicles are entering the mass market. Neodymium and praseodymium represent over 90% of the rare earths used in magnet manufacture. Demand for rare earths has increased in recent years because of their wide and diverse use in high-technology applications and devices including nanotechnology, defense and aerospace, mobile phones, LCD and plasma televisions as well as superconductors, high-flux magnets, refining catalysts, energy efficient lights, wind turbines and hybrid car components. Learn more here.
The main consumers of these metals are China, Japan, Korea, Western Europe and the United States.