Why Rare Metals?
The Rare Metal Story
What are Rare Earth Metals?As defined by IUPAC, rare earth elements or rare earth metals are a group of 17 chemical elements in the periodic table, which usually occur within the same ore deposits. The group includes 15 lanthanide metals: lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, promethium, neodymium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium and lutetium. The metals scandium and yttrium are also included with these rare earths as they have very similiar chemical properties. In addition to these 17 light and heavy rare earth metals, there are 12 other rare metals which will also be included on our website.
For detailed information on any of the rare metals mentioned, please click on the relavant boxes in the periodic table below:
Why are Rare Earth Metals so Essential to Modern Human Life?
- Rare earth metals are absolutely essential for the Green Energy Revolution the world is currently embarking on. Rare metals are used in everyday green energy products such as hybrid cars, catalytic converters, wind turbines, next generation thin-film solar cells and energy saving opto-electronics such as LED lighting and flat screen displays.
- LEDs for example, are 80% more efficient than incandescent lighting, 40% more efficient than compact fluorescent bulbs, and have an expected life of 50,000 hours. In fact, in many countries such as Australia, conventional incandescent lighting has been banned altogether, which can only result futher demand for the manufacturing of such new green lighting technologies like LEDs.
- “A typical hybrid car contains over 30kg of rare earth elements and new sources of supply will be needed to meet the growing global demand, which currently is supplied almost entirely by China.” – Avalon Rare Metals"
- Alongside the green energy sector, rare metals are also essential for the future of the world's high tech industry, being used in industrial motors, medical Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines and other new medical applications, lasers, hard drives, high performing speakers and headphones, as well as many more military applications including missiles, satellites and radar systems.
- Another example includes the rare metal Neodymium, used to construct modern day super magnets. The unique chemical properties of Neodymium when used to make these super magnets, result in super efficient electric motors due to these super magnets being many multiples stronger than conventional magnets. Example uses of super magnets have included modern day wind turbines, the electric motors in Hybrid-Electric cars, medical Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines, industrial motors, computer hard drives (a driving factor in the miniaturization of laptop computers), superior quality speakers and headphones (such as those that come with Apple's iPod) and many more.
- “Super magnets made from Neodymium are close to 10 times stronger than regular magnets!"
The use of rare earth elements in modern technology has increased dramatically over the past years. For example, dysprosium has gained significant importance for its use in the construction of hybrid car motors, such as Toyota's popular Prius. Unfortunately, this new demand has strained supply, and there is growing concern that the world may soon face a shortage of the materials.
“Around 30 Kg of Rare Earth Metals are required to build a single completed Toyota Prius Hybrid Car!"
Global Production of Rare Earth Metals
- As can be seen in the chart below, over the past 50 years, the tables have turned with regards to the global production of rare earth metals. Whereas the United States previously held world dominance in rare earth metal production in 1964, China has now dominated the supply, and today produces over 97% of the world's rare earth elements (REE). The bulk of the remaining 5% come from new sources being developed in Canada, the USA and Australia.
China's Dominance of Rare Earth Metals?In 1997, Deng Xiaoping observed that ‘China would be for rare earth metals what the Middle East is to oil’. Within 10 years China has gained a strategic monopolistic control over the supply of rare earth metals to the entire world. More importantly, on Sept. 1, 2009, China announced plans for a total ban on the export of certain rares earth metals such as - neodymium, europium, cerium and lanthanum, and furthe recommended limiting the export of other rare metals to 35,000 metric tonnes per year in 2010-2015 to conserve scarce resources and protect the environment.
- To give you an idea on the magnitude of this decision, Japan alone requires more thant the entire allowable export of rare earth metals from China, having a thirst for 38,000 metric tonnes per year to meet its goal of providing eletric hybrid cars, flats screen displays and array of other cutting-edge technology they supply to the world. With only 5% of rare metals left to secure around the world, it will be a daunting task for many nations to access these resources, and an only lead to countries competing against each other and bidding the price much higher in the near future.
- Furthermore, China is also expanding and investing in rare metal companies overseas in a bid to further corner the marker by controlling some of the remaining 5% of rare metals outside of their country. With a >97% monopoly on the rare earth metals market, key countries around the world are rushing to explore, define and mine new sources of these rare metals. These countries are namely from the United States, Canada, Australia, South African New Zealand and Brazil.
Why Making a Rare Metal Investment is a Strategic Portfolio MoveA unique investment opportunity exists to profit from the urgent need to secure the remaining 5% of rare metal production not under China's grip, which are so critical to the future of national growth. As more and more countries join the party, looking to secure rare metals for their own domestic needs, RareMetalInvestor.com stands ready to provide you with the most up-to-date rare metal related news, companies and opportunities.
- Now is the time to educate yourself in rare metal investing, whilst the criticality of such metals are still invisible to the masses. You can be sure as night turns to day, that once individual and institutional investors become aware of the situation ("not if, but when") they will jump onboard the rare metals train as if their life depended on it, driving prices of rare metal stocks to currently unthinkable levels.
- Thankyou, enjoy the site, and feel free to drop me an email if you have any comments.
- David J. Renaud
- Founder, RareMetalInvestor.com
Source: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Fact Sheet 087-02, 2002