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Demand and Supply of the Rare Earth Element - Neodymium

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One of the most reactive lanthanides – a band of related metallic components numbered 57-71 on the recurring list is called neodymium. Along with scandium and yttrium these 15 components, are called as “rare earth elements” or REEs. Though having this name, several of these components are comparatively widespread in the crust of the Earth however this cost-effectively useable layers are somewhat scarce. Rare earth elements have significant usages in several important applications for various improved technologies in electronics, transportation, energy, and defense.

Scientists found out in 1983 that neodymium blended with iron and boron proved to be an extremely robust and enduring magnet in 1983. This supported the miniaturization of electronics like loudspeakers, mobile phones, computer hard drives, and electronic automobile components.

At present there is a huge demand for superior functioning neodymium-iron-boron magnets in the electric motors and vehicles that are of hybrid model. For instance, every Toyota Prius reportedly consists of around one kilogram of neodymium inside its motor. Moreover, neodymium magnets are utilised in aeronautics, space, as well as in wind turbines.

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The demand for neodymium also comes from the manufacturers of particularized glass utilised in shielding goggles worn while welding and glass blowing, and in other uses like laser pointers and surgical lasers. Besides, it is employed as a compound in polymerization reactions.

Neodymium is essentially excavated as a section of a corporation with other rare earth elements in the bastnaesite and monazite mineral sediments. Previously, California generated the maximum part of the world’s rare earth elements deposits from its single mine however China has become the leading supplier from the early 1990s. Around 70 percent of the world’s rare earth elements is supplied by China, with new mines opened in Australia and a United States mine reopened contributing to this.

Through recycling procedure much of the electronic waste is shredded resulting in the loss of rare earth elements in dust and ferruginous portions. The commercial feasibility of recycling rare earth minerals is demanding using the new age technology as it adds up to only a tiny percentage of the material in electronic waste.

Rare earth elements are facilitating to achieve clean energy economy as an important element used in powerful batteries, magnets, photovoltaics, among others. It is expected that with the growth in the demand for electric cars, wind turbines, solar panels and other advanced and digital gadgets and appliances, the pressure for supply of these rare earth minerals will also increase.

Moreover, rare earth element is considered as crucial resources owing to their usages in several industries and defense and also due to the geopolitical hazards of their supply chain being centered in essentially one country.

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There is a news that globally the largest manufacturer of magnet rare earth oxides, China, may halt the export of the set of minerals through the subsequent decade because of the rising domestic demand and a scarcity in the worldwide supply.

One more factor that is hampering the prospects of rare earth investment is the enduring tensions amongst the United States and China. Because China is globally the biggest producer of the element so far, the tensed association between the nations is focusing attention on global supply chain disturbance in the rare earth elements sector.

The national productivity of China for rare earth element was at 168,000 MT in 2021 which was higher than 140,000 MT in 2020. Meanwhile, the United States rare earths output was 43,000 MT in 2021 an increase from 39,000 MT in the last year. The United States is the leading rare earth minerals importer, having a demand for elements and metals worth USD 160 million in 2021.

During the recent years the international demand for rare earth minerals have increased as these are being used in a variety of applications involving permanent magnets utilised in electric vehicles (EV) and renewable energy devices since there is a target to meet the decarbonization targets globally.

According to a report published in April 2022, owing to the absence of new primary and secondary supply bases for rare earth oxides in the global market from 2022 onwards, together with the incapability of existing manufacturer to intensify their productivity, will generate a great neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) oxide scarcity by 2035.

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