Brazil Sees Opportunity in China's REE Cuts

Source:

"Brazil to develop research program to locate exploitable REE resources under the seabed."

China's December announcement that it was going to cut rare earth element (REE) export quotas this year following a previous reduction in such quotas in Q210 has led Brazilian officials to urge their government to stimulate the mining and processing of REEs in the an country.

While China currently produces more than 97% of the world's REEs, Brazil produced less than 1% in 2009.

But, by year-end 2010, a joint working group of specialists from Brazil's Ministry of Mines and Energy and Ministry of Science and Technology submitted a report to the government highlighting the opportunities created by China's decision and the growing global demand for rare earth metals in high-technology applications.

The global REE market was worth some $2 billion last year and could be worth as much as $9B in 2012. A report by an agency of the U.S. Congress has forecast that global demand will be about 180,000 tons in 2012 versus 134,000t last year.

The working group's report recognizes that the bulk of REE exploration and exploitation activities would have to be undertaken by the private sector. Currently, rare earth deposits are known to exist in the districts of Catal„o (GoŠis state), Pitinga (Amazonas State) and S„o Francisco do Itabapoana (Rio de Janeiro state).

The last named district contains the Buena operationóBrazil's main REE produceróowned by the state-owned Nuclear Industries of Brazil (abbreviated to INB in Portuguese) and which has a reserve of 20,000 tons of ore.

INB is responsible for this operation because the ore is monazite, which contains both uranium and thorium. It is close to the sea and the ore body is known to continue under the seabed. INB is talking with the Fluminense Federal University to develop a research program to locate exploitable REE resources under the seabed.

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