The global demand for rare earths was estimated to be over 140 kilo tons in 2010 and is expected to grow at a CAGR ranging from 10% to 10.5% from 2012 to 2018. The mechanical and metallurgical industry is the leading consumer of rare earth metals and accounts for approximately 32% of the total rare earth metals consumed in various markets. The mechanical and metallurgical industry is followed by glass and ceramics, chemical, energy and electronics, optics, and optoelectronics industries. Energy is expected to be the fastest growing segment for rare earths at a CAGR of over 17% from 2012 to 2018.
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The market is primarily driven by the technological advancements in electronics and automobile industries which influence the usage of rare earth metals. However, the growing concerns regarding the impact of production, refining and recycling of rare earth metals on the environment are expected to hinder the market.
China is the leading supplier of rare earth metals and accounts for approximately 95% of the global production. In 2010, the Chinese government restricted the export of rare earth metals to 40% in order to gain the price advantage as the global prices surged to a record level following this announcement from the Chinese government. However, this gave other producers around the globe a chance to boost their production. In the twentieth century, U.S., India, Brazil, and South Africa were among the top producers of rare earth metals until China, in 1980, decided to heavily increase its production and became the leading producer of rare earth metals.Some of the key participants in the global market include AGC Seimi Chemical, Arafura Resources, China Minmetals, China Rare Earth Holdings, Ferro Corporation, Indian Rare Earths, Mitsui Mining and Smelting, Molycorp, Rhodia and so on.
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China is now the world’s main supplier of rare-earth elements, which are minerals that play a critical role in making products from basic communication devices to high-tech military weaponry. Worried by that dominance, manufacturers around the globe have been spurring searches for other sources that could be profitably mined.
Nippon Light Metal has agreed to invest $3 million in buildings and equipment for the pilot project while also being responsible for operating costs. Any rare-earth elements produced during this phase will be jointly owned by Jamaica and the Japanese company. Negotiations for commercialization are expected to occur at a later date.
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