Looking Under the Sea for REEs

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"The bottom-of-the-ocean-REE-riches story is back. Scientists at the University of Tokyo and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology have developed a technology that will allow undersea metals to be detected by changes in gravity."

Rare Metal Blog, Robin Bromby

The bottom-of-the-ocean-REE-riches story is back. The Nikkei news service reports that scientists at the University of Tokyo and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology have developed a technology that will allow undersea metals to be detected by changes in gravity. They're going to experiment at the 1,000 metre deep Suruga Bay. The quest is not just rare earths, but rare and precious metals too.

And there's been a development in the "reduce, replace and reuse" story. You know, the one about how end-users are looking to lessen their dependence on rare earth metals in the absence of sufficient non-China production. Daido Steel has a plant in China's Jiangsu province that produces automotive magnets. It plans to invest 1 billion yen ($12.5 million) to double producton of a newly developed magnet that reduces by half the amount of dysprosium used. This is in response to the rising cost of the element and Daido is hoping to enlarge its market share by - effectively - becoming more cost competitive through reducing the amount of dysprosium it buys. Its brawny neodymium magnets are used in power steering parts in automobiles.

In another development, TDK Corp and Showa Denko may bed down as early as this month their China joint venture to produce high-performance rare earth magnets. The Nikkei reports the magnets will be ready for the 2014 model electric and hybrid vehicles. The neodymium magnets would initially be used in 2014 model year EVs and hybrids made by Japanese automakers; the two partners intend to add capacity as demand from local Chinese carmakers grows.

Now, a new scandium product. Out of Seattle, Baden Sports Inc has unveiled a new line of its Axe trademark baseball and softball bats. The company says that these employ "Reinforced Composite Technology or LP Scandium Alloy to provide bigger sweet spots and maximum legal performance". . .

That may soon change. Encouraged by rising prices and political support, new mines are starting up around the world, most notably in Malaysia and in California, where a company called Molycorp has reopened what until the 1980s was the world's flagship rare-earth mine. . .View Full Article

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