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Rare earth metals

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ma 04 jul 2011, 07:42
Zeldzame aardmetalen op zeebodem
TOKIO (AFN) - Op de bodem van de Stille Oceaan zijn in sliblagen grote hoeveelheden zeldzame aardmetalen aangetroffen. De metalen zijn onmisbaar bij het maken van hightechapparaten. Volgens Japanse onderzoekers kunnen de metalen makkelijk worden gewonnen, zo maakten zij maandag bekend.

,,In de sliblagen zit een hoge concentratie zeldzame aardmetalen. Slechts een vierkante kilometer is genoeg om in een vijfde van de huidige wereldwijde consumptie te voorzien'', zei een van de wetenschappers.
De onderzoekers vonden de metalen in het slib op dieptes van tussen de 3500 en 6000 meter, op 78 verschillende locaties. Een derde van die locaties herbergt grote hoeveelheden van de metalen, inclusief yttrium. In totaal zou er 80 tot 100 miljard ton te winnen zijn.
Op dit moment bestaat de wereldwijde reserve volgens het Amerikaanse Geological Survey slechts uit 110 miljoen ton dat voornamelijk in China, Rusland, andere voormalige Sovjetstaten en de VS wordt gewonnen.
'Japanse diepzeemetalen luchtkasteel'
Gepubliceerd op 7 jul 2011 om 15:56 | Views: 0

TOKIO (AFN) - De recente ontdekking van grote voorraden zeldzame aardmetalen op de zeebodem voor de Japanse kust is van weinig betekenis. Dit zeggen Amerikaanse analisten.
Volgens de analisten is het veel te complex en te duur om de aardmetalen commercieel te kunnen winnen. ,,De metalen liggen op 4000 tot 5000 meter diepte waar nooit commerciële winning heeft plaatsgevonden, en ook nooit zal plaatsvinden tenzij de prijzen van zeldzame aardmetalen vertienvoudigen'', aldus analist John Kaiser.
Volgens de analisten is een dergelijke prijsstijging niet realistisch. ,,Zeldzame aardmetalen zijn duurder geworden, maar ze komen absoluut niet in de buurt van echt zeldzame metalen als goud'', zegt een andere analist. Winning van de metalen op land is veel goedkoper en technisch eenvoudiger en zal hierdoor leidend blijven, is de verwachting.
China to suspend output of rare earth metal in South

Nikkei reported that production of a rare earth metal used in motors of hybrid vehicles and air conditioners will soon come to a temporary halt in three mining districts of a Jiangxi Province city in the name of preventing overdevelopment.

Ganzhou has ordered strict compliance with annual production quotas in the three areas. Since they are believed to have already exceeded their annual quotas, production will likely be suspended at least until the end of the year.

The move came despite the Japanese call for a softer Chinese approach to regulating rare-earth production. Japan is concerned that reduced exports from China would lead to supply shortages for the metals and price hikes on products that use them. Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and some other major Japanese producers of electrical machinery have started raising air conditioner prices because of surging prices for dysprosium.

Mr Nobuhiko Kawamura GM of Showa Denko KK's (4004) rare earths division said that "There are efforts to kick off production in Russia and Vietnam but it will likely take at least 5 years."

The firm, which produces dysprosium based alloys in Jiangxi Province and elsewhere sees potential for global dysprosium supply shortages in two to three years should China continues with its strict regulation of rare earth production. Even so magnet manufacturers and other firms with dysprosium dealings mostly reacted to Monday's news with calm.

A official at Hitachi Metals Limited said that because we thought it might happen, the news comes as no surprise to us. But a major trading house is alarmed because it will not likely be able to find alternative sources of dysprosium and other rare earth metals quickly.

An official at this trading house said that if the halt to production continues after New Year's, they may start affecting manufacturers' production. China accounts for more than 90% of rare earth output worldwide. Production is active in the north, centering on the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region as well as in and around Jiangxi in the south.

Production in the north has been controlled by major state run companies, which have complied with the regulations. But down south, small and midsize operators have engaged in illegal production. To tighten control in the south, the Chinese government in January designated 11 locations in Jiangxi as mining areas subject to national planning.

(Sourced from Nikkei.com)
China rare earths squeeze

China’s policy of tightening its rare earth export quota has been causing quite a furor in the rare earth metals market since 2009. With increasing technological advances, the demand for rare earth metals is only increasing worldwide and the declining supply is causing prices to shoot upwards. Prices can come down only if end users reduce production and thereby reduce demand. However, that is an unlikely situation and even if it did happen, the effects are likely to be short lived.

The trend of many end users of rare earth metals moving their manufacturing units to China for easier access to raw materials will change only when western companies begin production. Molycorp is selling rare earth metals left over from earlier mining while Australia’s Lynas Corp opened its Mt. Weld mine on August 4th 2011. However, there will be no significant production until 2013 at the earliest. Until then high prices are here to stay. Little change is expected in Q4 of 2011.

Rare Earth prices will remain bullish in the second half of this year but won’t be higher than the first half’s levels, as companies in downstream activities halt production due to expected high operating costs.”

Mr Mark Smith CEO of Molycorp said that while global demand continues to be high supply outside China continues to be tight, as China continues to reduce its net rare earth oxide export quotas. We simply cannot produce enough for our customers.

For the last 2 years, China has imposed quotas to limit exports of rare earths to about 30,000 tonnes a year. Before that, factories outside the country consumed nearly 60,000 tonnes a year. China has also raised export taxes on rare earths to as much as 25%, on top of value added taxes of 17%.

China contributes 97% of the world’s rare earth metals production and Japan is the largest buyer of these metals. Prices have been increasing at such a rate that Japanese buyers are no longer signing six monthly sales contracts but quarterly ones. They are also earnestly looking for alternative sources of rare earth metals.

Tokyo based analyst Mr Shinya Yamada of Credit Suisse AG said that since May this year, prices have increased by almost three times. Such increases will force companies to avoid manufacturing products that require the 17 rare earth metals. Japanese companies such as magnetic and electronic materials maker Hitachi Metals Ltd., hybrid cars and wind turbines maker Toyota Motor Corporation, and trading houses Sojitz Corporation and Sumitomo Corporation are a few companies that have been hard hit by China’s tightening export policy. The two trading houses import most of Japan’s rare earth requirements.

Mr Fujinori Sato deputy manager at Sojitz Corporation said that “China changed its strategy from limiting export quotas to tightening regulations for digging and refining. Prices may go up further later this year.”

(Sourced from www.marketoracle.co.uk)

Overleg EU, VS en Japan over aardmetalen

Gepubliceerd op 8 sep 2011 om 20:57 | Views: 326

BRUSSEL (AFN) - De Europese Unie, de Verenigde Staten en Japan gaan volgende maand praten over mogelijkheden om de vraag naar aardmetalen waarvan China de export beperkt heeft te verlagen. Dat zei een Amerikaanse regeringsfunctionaris donderdag.

Experts en ambtenaren zullen het onder meer hebben over de productie van hoogtechnologische goederen, zoals elektrische motoren voor auto's en windturbines, die minder afhankelijk zijn van die metalen. ,,Er is een groeiende markt voor dergelijke producten en het moet mogelijk zijn om ze te blijven maken'', aldus de regeringsfunctionaris.

China produceert ruim 95 procent van 's werelds zeldzame aardmetalen. Het land beperkte de uitvoer daarvan in december vorig jaar, maar verdubbelde de exportquota naar ruim 30.000 ton in juli. Dinsdag zorgde de beslissing om de productie in 3 belangrijke mijnen stil te leggen echter weer voor nieuwe spanningen.
Global mining plans to ease rare earth concerns

France's strategic metals committee said that a wave of mining projects worldwide should tap into sizeable deposits of rare earths and ease supply concerns caused by export curbs in top producer China.

Mr Francois Bersani secretary general of COMES said that a push to diversify supply sources and rising prices could encourage further exploration including in Europe while also spurring more recycling. Demand for rare earths a group of 17 elements used for catalytic converters, battery cells and motors for hybrid cars among others is expected to double in the next 5 years.

China accounts for more than 95% of worldwide output of rare earths and its decision to slash export quotas for the H1 of 2011 raised fears about a shortage. We don't have the impression that the term rare earths should be taken literally. In other words they are not that rare in the earth's crust.

Projects such as Lynas Corporation's new mining operation in Australia and Molycorop's plans to restart its mothballed Mountain Pass mines in the US show the potential for boosting rare earth production. Looking at the decade ahead you can imagine that there will be less tension than that which hit the headlines last year. The reduced flow of rare earths has sent prices soaring and also led to a World Trade Organization ruling against China which it is appealing.

Mr Bersani declined to comment on the move, saying he was waiting for the results of an EU study on the issue. The French government launched COMES earlier this year with a brief to assess the country's needs in metals deemed to be strategic for its economy.

He said that China's share of estimated global reserves of rare earths was about 40% indicating the scope for mining projects elsewhere. This could include Europe with particular interest at the moment in potential resources in Scandinavian countries. We also have rare earths in France, it's just that we don't currently have in mainland France a deposit comparable to the Chinese ones or to Mountain Pass.

France has conducted subsea exploration in the Pacific territory of Wallis and Futuna to assess potential mineral reserves although Mr Bersani cautioned these offered much less concentrated deposits than on land. The Japanese say there are a lot of rare earths at the bottom of the Pacific referring to a discovery made by a team of Japanese scientists.

(Sourced from Reuters)
China rare earth prices mostly firm on crackdown

Reuters reported that prices of most rare earth elements have risen because of local government crackdowns on mining with three major mines the latest targets. But prices for praseodymium and its alloys fell. Spot praseodymium prices softened to CNY 1.2 million to CNY 1.25 million per tonne from CNY 1.25 million to CNY 1.3 million.

Praseodymium neodymium alloy prices dropped to CNY 1.15 million to CNY 1.2 million per tonne on Friday from Wednesday's CNY 1.25 million to CNY 1.3 million.

Mr Li Guoqing director of the mining management bureau of Ganzhou city in the eastern province of Jiangxi said that three of eight major rare earth producing counties would stop production by year end.

(Sourced from Reuters)
Chinese rare earth reserves down by 37pct

It is reported that reserves of rare earth minerals in China, the world largest producer and exporter fell by 37% during the 11th Five-Year Plan period.

China produced 118,900 tonnes of rare earth products in 2010 while Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare Earth Group Hi-Tech accounted for more than 60% of the global rare earth market.

Mr Xu Xu chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters, attributed the sharp fall in China rare earth reserves to the global reliance on China as a source of low cost rare earth imports.

(Sourced from yicai.com)
Rare earths prices appear to soften

WSJ reported that prices for the vital industrial minerals known as rare earths appear to have moderated in recent weeks following two years of relentless gains, as the supply outlook brightens and dominant producer China faces possible legal challenges to export restrictions.

Rare earths shorthand for a collection of 17 minerals used to make products from hybrid car batteries and oil-refining agents to military equipment have been surging with the prices of some rising more than tenfold since 2009 amid panic buying. China controls almost the entire global supply and its export limits, mine restructurings and other policies have sparked a frantic scramble to secure the obscure metals.

Determining prices for rare earths is tricky because the market for them is illiquid and only small quantities are produced globally. Some of the biggest buyers and sellers complain that they have little clarity on pricing.

But Australia's Lynas Corporation which publishes references related to what it expects to produce at its Mount Weld deposit in the state of Western Australia, says prices for lanthanum often used to make catalysts for refineries has dropped to USD 92 per kilogram as of September 19th 2011 from USD 135.02 in the Q2. Prices for cerium, sometimes used in glass have also dropped to USD 92 per kilogram from USD 138.29 in the Q2.

A JP Morgan Chase & Company analyst cited falling rare earth prices as a reason to slash his outlook for Colorado based Molycorp Inc a rare earths producer often considered an industry bellwether. Its New York Stock Exchange-listed shares subsequently tumbled nearly 22%.The shares fell another 3.9% ending at USD 39.85.

Mr Mark Smith CEO of Molycorp said that "Although there may some short-term fluctuations and impact related to recent speculation in China, we remain very, very bullish on the prices of these materials."

Rare earth prices remain far above where they were just two years ago. Lanthanum for instance, still hovers 18 times above its 2009 price, while prices for cerium are still nearly 25 times higher. Indeed, some international prices haven't fallen at all, in particular those that are known as heavy rare earths like terbium which is used in advanced lasers and optics.

Mr Luther C Kissam CEO of Albemarle Corporation said that still some industry observers see reason to hope for an end to what has been constantly climbing prices. As a general rule, people think prices are going to drop.

(Sourced from online.wsj.com)
Rare Earths Fall as Toyota, GE Develop Alternatives

By Sonja Elmquist - Sep 29, 2011 4:05 PM GMT+0200

Rare-earth prices are set to extend their decline from records this year as buyers including Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) and General Electric Co. (GE) scale back using the materials in their cars and windmills.

Prices for cerium and lanthanum, the most abundant rare- earth elements, will drop by 50 percent in 12 months, Christopher Ecclestone, an analyst at Hallgarten & Co. in New York, has forecast. Neodymium and praseodymium, metals used in permanent rare-earth magnets, may fall as much as 15 percent, he said.

Makers of electric cars, wind turbines and oil-refining catalysts have sought to reduce use of the metals after China, which supplies more than 90 percent of the market, said in July 2010 that it would cut exports and clamp down on the industry. That boosted prices, encouraging mining companies to develop new prospects and buyers to find alternatives.

“If you think you can keep raising the prices for those materials and still keep your customers, you’re crazy,” Jack Lifton, co-founder of Technology Metals Research, said in a telephone interview. “The principal customer for rare-earth metals is a global automotive industry using rare-earth permanent magnets. That industry will engineer this stuff out.”

Declines in August and September pared a five-month, fourfold surge that brought the average price for eight of the most widely used rare-earth oxides to a record 396,850 yuan ($62,068) a metric ton in July, data from consultant Shanghai Steelhome Information show. The average price declined 13 percent from its July peak as of Sept. 27.

Share Performance

The Bloomberg Rare Earth Mineral Resources Index dropped 41 percent in the last three months, led by a 60-percent decline in Montreal-based Quest Rare Minerals Ltd. (QRM) Great Western Minerals Group Ltd., which explores in North America, climbed 4.6 percent in the period and is the only gainer on the 17-member benchmark.

Rare earths have been pushed lower because of selling by speculators, Michael Gambardella, a New York-based analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co., said in a report last week. Tsunami- related disruptions in Japan and dumping of unpermitted material in China have undercut prices, while industrial substitution has driven “demand destruction,” said Sam Berridge, a Sydney-based analyst at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc.

“A greater focus on recycling and substitution, particularly by Japanese consumers, has resulted in tightness of demand easing somewhat for the lighter rare earths,” Berridge said by phone.

‘Huge Savings’

Rising prices for the so-called light metals, such as neodymium and lanthanum, have prompted automakers including Toyota, Asia’s biggest automaker, to look at reducing the use of relatively powerful and expensive rare-earth magnets in their vehicles. Some Toyota vehicles will be built with an induction motor, which doesn’t use rare-earth magnets, said John Hanson, a Toyota spokesman in Torrance, California.

“Moving from a fixed-magnet motor to an induction motor is a huge savings with regard to rare-earth metals,” Hanson said by phone.

“The Japanese are leading the push to replace, reduce and recycle their rare-earths consumption,” said Dudley Kingsnorth, chief executive officer of Perth-based advisory Industrial Minerals Co. of Australia. “Users are recycling rare earths wherever they can, using them more efficiently, particularly in the magnet industry where they are producing powerful magnets with smaller volumes.”

GM’s Plans

General Motors Co. (GM), the largest U.S. automaker, plans to sell a Chevrolet Malibu Eco next year that uses an induction motor, and otherwise cut down on magnets that use a lot of rare earths.

“The magnets are like God’s gift to electric motors,” Pete Savagian, GM’s chief engineer for electric motors, said in a telephone interview. “But we don’t always need that level of magnet. Even at prices we saw three and four years ago, there’s a more economic alternative, albeit at slightly less efficient outcome.”

The largest portion of demand for rare earths, one third, comes from generating electricity, according to Bloomberg Industries.

In August, GE announced the development of wind-turbine generators that will reduce dependence on the rare-earth materials prevalent in so-called permanent-magnet machines. Some current offshore wind turbines may contain as much as half a ton of the metals, according to Bloomberg Industries analysis.

Gasoline Refining

“Everybody is going back to the drawing board and trying to redesign their generators to minimize the usage of permanent magnets,” said Steve Duclos, chief scientist and manager of material sustainability for GE Global Research. “In all of our businesses we’re looking to reduce our usage.”

W.R. Grace & Co. this year began selling an oil-refining catalyst with reduced lanthanum, a rare earth that has increased in price more than fourfold in the past year. Lanthanum improves the amount of gasoline refiners can extract from crude oil and is also used in hybrid-car batteries.

Half of the company’s customers had switched to the new formula, which offers the same performance and gives them “double-digit type percent decreases in their cost,” Grace Chief Financial Officer Hudson La Force III said on a conference call this month.

Companies that use cerium to polish glass, such as manufacturers of liquid crystal displays, will reduce their reliance on the element by as much as 70 percent this year by installing new polishing machines, said Jonathan Hykawy, an analyst with Byron Capital Markets in Toronto.

‘Demand Destruction’

“They made the decision to substitute operational expenditure with capital expenditure,” Hykawy said. “Even if the price of cerium goes back to $5 a kilo, they will continue to buy less cerium because the machines are there and they’ll save a little bit of money. That’s a quasi-permanent demand destruction for cerium.”

The development doesn’t worry Mark Smith, CEO of Molycorp Inc. (MCP), owner of the largest rare-earth deposit outside China.

Fluid-cracking catalysts have “always been one of the largest single markets for any of the individual rare earths,” Smith said in an interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. “We don’t see that deteriorating in any significant form.”

While rare-earth prices have fallen, demand will outpace supplies even with new mines in California and Australia expected to come online in 2014, Smith said.

“Like any market, you’re going to see up and down in the course of a month or two,” Smith said. “But the overall trend remains short supply, heavy demand.”

Magnetic Powders

The ability to substitute many rare-earth applications will be limited, said Constantine Karayannopoulos, CEO of Neo Material Technologies Inc. (NEM), a Toronto-based producer of rare- earths, magnetic powders and rare metals.

“All kinds of folks are trying to use alternative technologies,” he said by phone. “Longer-term, don’t expect these technologies to be in place this quarter or the next.”

GE’s Duclos says he has little doubt companies will find substitutes, sooner or later.

“It will depend on the element, it will depend on the usage, but getting 10-20 percent efficiencies out of the usage of an element is not that terribly difficult,” Duclos said. “What I don’t subscribe to is this idea that there’s nothing we can do.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Sonja Elmquist in New York at Selmquist1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Casey at scasey4@bloomberg.net.

Globe Metals and Mining commences drilling to extend heavy rare earth oxides zones at Machinga

Globe Metals & Mining has begun a drilling campaign to target and extend significant heavy rare earth oxides and niobium mineralization at the Machinga Rare Earth Elements Project in Malawi.

The 4,000 meter drilling program will focus on confirming and extending the multiple zones of near surface high grade heavy rare earth oxide mineralization in Zone 10 through Zone 70 of the Machinga Main Zone, as well as target Lingoni anomalies.

Intercepts from a 2010 drilling program identified the presence of very high heavy rare earth oxides or total rare earth oxides ratios averaging 33%. These results included high grades of the much sought after element dysprosium, averaging 375 parts per million with a peak result of 971 parts per million.

Dysprosium is one of only five REEs deemed critical to the clean energy industry by the US Department of Energy in 2011. Global supply shortages of newly produced dysprosium oxide are expected until 2015 at the earliest. Planned drilling will also test Zone 40 where previous intersections showed slightly higher niobium and tantalum grades and ratios to TREO and somewhat lower TREO grades.

High grade niobium mineralization intersected included 15 metres at 0.45% with 0.75% niobium oxide including 5 metres at 0.54% TREO and 1.34% niobium oxide.

Detailed analysis of follow up soil and auger results for the Lingoni target revealed several anomalous zones of REE mineralization. A 1000 meter drill plan has subsequently been designed to test two REE targets and one niobium heavy rare earth elements target at Lingoni.

With AUD 42 million in cash and a market capitalization of just USD 36 million, Globe is trading under cash backing, providing opportunities for investors to acquire an interest in the company's projects in Africa at next to no cost.

Globe currently has the Mount Muambe REE-Fluorite Project in Mozambique, and four projects in Malawi: the Kanyika Niobium Project, the Machinga REE Project, the Salambidwe REE Project and the Livingstonia Uranium Project. Globe's main focus is the multi commodity Kanyika Niobium Project in Malawi which will commence production of ferroniobium in 2014, a key additive in sophisticated steels.

(Sourced from www.proactiveinvestors.com.au)

Toyota finds way to avoid using rare earth

Reuters reported that Toyota Motor Corporation has developed a way to make hybrid and electric vehicles without the use of expensive rare earth metals, in which China has a near monopoly.

Toyota, the world's top producer of fuel saving hybrid cars such as the Prius, could bring the technology to market in 2 years if the price of rare earths does not come down.

A Toyota spokeswoman said that the company continues to research ways to reduce rare earth usage and has no time frame yet for commercialization.

Rare earth metals like neodymium and dysprosium are used in the powerful magnets in motors that power hybrid and electric cars and demand is expected to surge as more of the environmentally friendly cars hit the market.

China produces more than 95% of the world's rare earth metals. Its efforts to limit exports, citing resource depletion and environmental degradation have alarmed its customers and trading partners and have sent prices soaring.

Japan accounts for a third of global rare earth demand and is aiming to cut consumption providing subsidies for recycling and investing in new ways to limit their use.

(Sourced from Reuters)

China exported 22.67 million pounds of molybdenum in 2011

According to China's customs statistics, trade balance of molybdenum in 2011 was export surplus by 4.13 million pounds, i.e. exports were 22.67 million pounds and imports were 18.54 million pounds.

The balance recorded in the past years was, 2009: import surplus by 60.91 pounds, 2011: export surplus by 0.16 million pounds. As to the balance of 2011, it is to be noted that imports sharply dropped, the balance during the first half was export surplus of 4.78 million pounds, while in the second half it was 0.65 million pounds.

Imports in the past years were, 2009: 72.4 million pounds, 2010: 30.0 million pounds and 2011: 15.6 million pounds. The big number of 2009 was based on speculative buying, as the price substantially dipped in the year.

The price change of molybdenum oxide during 2011 was USD 16 to USD 17 per pound in the first half and USD 13 to USD 16 per pound in the second half. The price suddenly started to soften in autumn to USD 13 to USD 14 per pound, but apparently it did not fall enough to stimulate risk takers' appetite for speculative buying.

It is said that the Chinese producers' break even point is USD 12 to USD 13 per pound, while an export tax of 15% is added for exports. So, if the price for molybdenum oxide dips to below USD 13 per pound and stays there for some time in 2012, China's export business will be slow, as it makes no sense.

The reason why the market sentiment has been somewhat tight since last month is partly because of the smaller volume of exports from China and probably because of the mining output cut by Thompson Creek Metals which started in the second half of 2011.

As to the trades in December 2011, exports were 1.43 million pounds and imports were 1.74 million pounds, an import surplus.

(Sourced from TEX Report Limited)
Pollution the big barrier to freer trade in rare earths

Reuters reported that tackling pollution, not freeing up trade is regarded as the solution to a global shortage of rare earths the metals that are the building blocks of the 21st century.

The United States, Europe and Japan have lodged a formal trade complaint against China, the world's monopoly supplier of rare earths accusing it of choking exports of the metals used in advanced technologies from computer screens to hybrid cars.

Industry experts said that the West and Japan have a strong case to argue before the World Trade Organization but the same experts and environmental groups argue that mere victory on a trade complaint will not be enough to break China's grip. Instead, the key to ending China's monopoly is for other nations to help clean up one of mining's dirtiest industries an industry the United States, once the world's largest supplier allowed to wither many years ago.

China's rare earths refineries, which secured their monopoly by turning out metals at extremely low prices for more than a decade have poisoned rivers with acid and piled up radioactive waste an environmental cost that aroused little controversy in developed, consuming nations when metal prices were low.

Now that China has squeezed exports and driven up international prices over the past three years a move it says is needed to clean up its industry and conserve a dwindling resource the West and Japan have finally cried foul.

Mr Ian Chalmers MD of budding Australian rare earths miner Alkane Resources said that "The rest of the world basically gave up on rare earths 10 years ago. The turning point came when US rare earths miner Molycorp mothballed its Mountain Pass mine in California in 2002, having four years earlier shut down its separation plant due to problems disposing of waste water. The mine had once accounted for 40 percent of global supplies of rare earths.”

Mr Chalmers said that environmental standards and technology have improved greatly. The industry is capable of operating in a much more environmentally responsible manner now. That environmental assurance by the industry, however, have stirred skepticism, despite advances in processing technology and pollution controls since the West ceded control to China.

Mr Ronald McCoy president of Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility said that there is solid evidence from China, the United States and even Malaysia that the processing of rare earths contaminates the environment and endangers health.

Source - Reuters
China sets up rare earth association

China Daily reported that China's rare earth industry set up an association on Sunday with the aim of spurring healthy development in the sector.

Mr Su Bo vice minister of Industry and Information Technology which governs the association said that the association, consisting of 155 members that include industry giants Aluminum Corporation of China and China Minmetals Corporation, was formed to promote sustainable and sound development in the sector.

Mr Gan Yong now an academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering and also president of the Chinese Society of Rare Earths will be the president of the association.

He said that the association will work to form a reasonable price mechanism and to create a win win situation for developers and consumers through its coordination efforts. Members of the association range across the industrial chain, including mining, smelting and splitting which will make communications and negotiations easier within the association.

The association also said that it will actively provide support and services for relevant departments and local governments help maintain order in the sector, facilitate exchange and cooperation between enterprises to spur innovation and coordinate efforts to cope with international trade frictions and disputes.

China has announced production caps, stricter environmental standards and an export quota system for rare earth metals in recent years. But the moves have triggered protests from several countries who claim that China is using the precious metals which are used to manufacture an array of high tech goods as a political bargaining chip.

In the latest dispute, the European Union, United States and Japan formally last month asked the WTO to settle a dispute with China over restrictions placed on exports of raw materials including rare earth elements.

Mr Gan said that the newly found association will help deepen international communications and properly handle the trade disputes according to international standards and WTO rules.

Meanwhile, Mr Gan promised to shoulder due responsibilities to protect the environment as the country's rare earth exploitation has wed too much to environment. The country supplies more than 90% of rare earth products on the global market but its reserves only account for about one-third of the world's total. Many countries in the world have rare earth reserves you cannot rely on China alone to provide all the supplies.

Source - Chinadaily.com.cn
Hitachi werkt aan goedkopere elektromotor
Gepubliceerd op 11 apr 2012 om 16:40 | Views: 297

TOKIO (AFN) - Het Japanse technologieconcern Hitachi heeft een elektromotor ontwikkeld waar geen zeldzame aardmetalen in verwerkt zijn. Daardoor kunnen dergelijke motoren in de toekomst mogelijk goedkoper worden geproduceerd, en worden fabrikanten minder afhankelijk van de import van grondstoffen uit China.

Dat maakte Hitachi woensdag bekend. Het bedrijf verwacht in 2014 te kunnen beginnen met de commerciële productie van de motoren. Het heeft 4 jaar aan de vinding gewerkt. Ook andere Japanse bedrijven, waaronder autofabrikant Toyota, werken aan technologie om goedkoper elektromotoren te maken.

De elektromotoren die nu in bijvoorbeeld elektrische auto's en hybrides worden gebruikt, bevatten magneten met zeldzame metalen als neodymium en dysprosium. China heeft 90 procent van de markt in die grondstoffen in handen. Het land wordt ervan beticht de eigen industrie te bevoordelen door de export van de metalen te beperken.
Honda gaat zeldzame aardmetalen recyclen
Gepubliceerd op 17 apr 2012 om 10:04 | Views: 376

TOKIO (AFN) - De Japanse autofabrikant Honda gaat op grote schaal zeldzame aardmetalen uit gebruikte auto-onderdelen recyclen. Dat liet het bedrijf dinsdag weten.

Honda is een verbond aangegaan met een Japans metaalbedrijf om de metalen uit waterstofbatterijen van nikkel te kunnen halen. De batterijen zijn afkomstig uit gebruikte hybride auto's.

Het besluit om te gaan recyclen is enerzijds een noodgreep als gevolg van de torenhoge prijzen van zeldzame aardmetalen, waar China nagenoeg het monopolie op bezit. Anderzijds betekent het een stap in een langer proces van het terugdringen van het verbruik van zeldzame grondstoffen.
Honda to recycle rare earth metals in used parts

Reuters reported that Honda Motor Company would start the world's first mass production process to extract rare earth metals from used car parts and recycle the expensive materials mainly controlled by China.

The Japanese automaker said that Honda has partnered Japan Metals & Chemicals Company to begin extracting rare earth metals this month from nickel metal hydride batteries collected from used hybrid vehicles at its dealers around the world. China produces about 95% of global rare earth supplies and has ratcheted up export controls, sending prices soaring.

Honda said that the newly developed process enables the extraction of more than 80% of rare earth metals in nickel metal hydride batteries. It plans to also use the process for other parts, feeding the extracted metals back to its products.

Japanese automakers and other heavy users are researching ways to reduce rare earth usage or replace the metals including with the help of government subsidies.

Source - Reuters
Gisteren een terechte waarschuwing dat dat minder leuk voor Umicore is. Gaan dus met zo'n beetje dezelfde activiteit starten.
Het is nu nog bang afwachten wanneer de Chinezen eraan beginnen...
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