The Future of REE Supply and Demand
Source: Rare Earth Investing News, Damon van der Linde (6/17/11)
"We're assuming everyone's projections are exactly what will happen."
As prices for rare earth elements (REEs) climb, many junior miners are anxiously anticipating the prospect of cashing in on filling the need for these critical materials. Though this could mean big opportunities for those who are able to meet a growing demand, according to experts at the Critical Metals Investment Symposium, whoc said there was little agreement about how the supply and demand will be sustained.
"These are projections—not predictions, and. . .are only based on data from the marketplace," said Jack Lifton, cofounder of Technology Metals Research. "We're assuming that everyone's projections are exactly what will happen, which is not necessarily going to happen."
REEs do certainly have useful applications in increasingly important technologies including magnets for wind energy turbines, hybrid and electric vehicles, and batteries of varying sizes.
Though rare earth metals can be found in many places around the world, because their applications in technologies are only now emerging, few countries have invested in producing these materials. At the moment, China alone produces 94% of all rare earth elements mined in the world, and it will be years before any major mines are currently online in other countries.
"Unless we decide to go into production of REEs outside of China in the next couple of years, we're basically ceding to China at least in the automotive REE industry," said Lifton.
Meanwhile, China's government is steadily tightening export quotas and raising international prices to such an extent that it is causing alarm in governments worldwide.
"Making money is not the goal of China. . . " said Lifton, adding, ". . .unless we decide to go into production of REEs outside of China in the next couple of years, we're basically ceding to China at least in the automotive REE industry," said Lifton.