Rare earth elements are chemical elements including yttrium and the 15 lanthanide elements (lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, and lutetium).
The rare earth elements are all metals, and have many similar properties, and that often causes them to be found together in geologic deposits. They are also referred to as “rare earth oxides” because many of them are typically sold as oxide compounds.
Rare earth oxides such as neodymium and praseodymium are expected to grow in demand due to their use in technologies such as magnets, aircraft engines and specialty glass as well as green technologies including wind turbines and hybrid cars.
What are rare earths used for?
The main uses of rare earths, based on 95% of TREO consumption over 10 years, can be grouped into eight categories:
- Battery alloys: used in rechargeable batteries for hybrid electric vehicles, power tools, etc
- Catalysts: used in catalytic converters, fuel cracking catalysts, etc
- Ceramics, pigments and glazes: used in applications which necessitate high temperature stabilty
- Glass polishing powders and additives: used in optical glass to mobile phones and LCD screens
- Metallurgy and alloys: added to liquid steel during steelmaking
- Permanent magnets for use in motors
- Phosphors: used in lamps and backlighting
- Other uses in chemicals, materials and technologies such as communications, defence and healthcare.
Rare earths are currently in a supply/demand imbalance. To meet strong global demand, a new mine with production of 20,000t REO/yr is required every year from 2020 to 2025. China is forecast to be a net importer of rare earths by 2025 and is acquiring projects outside of China.
Through its Nechalacho project in Canada, Vital Metals has the opportunity to be the lowest cost producer of mixed rare earth oxide outside of China.
A 3MV wind turbine uses 600+kg of NdPR Oxides. Projected to grow at a rate of over 7%
Every barrel of crude fracked uses 3.8g of REO cracking catalysts.
Military Strategic Resource
Heavily used in: Jet Turbines, submarines, advanced weapons systems (lasers, satellites), communication networks and computing.
EVs expected to grow from 3 million to 125 million by 2030. Every electronic car will use 0.5-1.5kg more NdPr than the internal combustion engine it replaces.