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Rare Earth Metals: The Impact of Short Supplies

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Stay Current with Rare Earth News by visiting the Market News section of the Connexion Green Scene

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2012 Rare Earth Market Outlook
After a rollercoaster year for the rare earths market in 2011, investors are cautiously waiting to see what 2012 has in store for the sector...

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Rare Earth Market Update:
China “White Paper” on Rare Earth metals

June 21, 2012

The White Paper, titled "Situation and Policies of China's Rare Earth Industry," was released by the Information Office of the State Council. China will continue to follow WTO rules, strengthen the industry's management and supply Rare Earth products to the global market, the White Paper said...

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 China controls up to 97% of the world's supply of rare earth mineralsWill the rare earth minerals market be headed for a more normal supply condition following a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling against Chinese export restrictions and the recent discovery by Japanese scientists?

This indeed may be the case but unfortunately the damage has already been done. Our industry is now bracing itself for record price increases on fluorescent lamps due to the controlled export of phosphors, a subgroup of these rare earth elements.

The problem with the supply of rare earth elements is that demand has skyrocketed over the last decade from 40,000 tons to 120,000 tons. Meanwhile, China, who owns the monopoly of rare earth minerals has been cutting its exports. Today, it only exports about 30,000 tons a year - only one-fourth of the world's demand. 

Washington bureaucrats may finally be recognizing the severity of the situation. Last September, the U.S. Congress passed the Rare Earths and Critical Materials Revitalization Act. 

The purpose of the law is to promote research and development into technologies that can replace REEs, as well as support the revival of REE production here in the United States. Additional legislation is reportedly also pending in both the House and Senate. Too little too late?

In a U.S. Department of Energy report dated December 14, 2010, it was noted that "it is likely to take 15 years for the U.S. to mine enough rare earth minerals to shake its dependence on China." In 2010 the Energy Department also warned that the United States was too reliant on China for the minerals, making clean energy industries in particular vulnerable to disruptions in supply. With China currently Global Rare Earth Oxide production Trendscontrolling up to 97% of the world supply of rare earth metals, it shouldn't come as a surprise that they've been imposing tariffs and severe export restrictions. 

China first imposed trade limits in 1999, and its exports shrank by 20 percent from 2005 to 2009. Then a dramatic cutback in 2010, squeezing global supplies amid a dispute with Japan*, and they've fallen even further in 2011. China claims they're just being frugal for environmental reasons, not economic leverage, but the cutbacks have nonetheless caused major price spikes - a condition our electrical and lighting industries are now having to deal with.

*During a dispute between Japan and China in 2010, the Chinese stopped the supply of rare earth metals to Japan, which heavily influenced Japan's high-tech industry. This was seen as a wake- up call for Japan to secure rare earth resources for themselves. 

Rare Earth Elements are crucial to hybrid cars, wind turbines and many other 'green' technologies. Much closer to home and our lighting industry, it's a primary component used in the manufacture of fluorescent lamps - principally phosphors. Phosphors are transition metal compounds or rare earth compounds of various types.

The LED industry also uses a wide and growing range of phosphor materials to convert the light emission from LED chips into a different wavelength spectrum. It may be just a matter of time before the scarcity of phosphors also impacts the LED lamp market.

REM Global DemandIn both the short and long term, you can and should expect price increases on the products that contain rare earth elements. In the lamp industry, this includes LEDs, neodymium incandescent, and some mercury vapor lamps, with linear and compact fluorescent bulbs garnering the most widespread and immediate increases. The first round of price increases is just beginning to surface. Most manufacturers are implementing their price increases in an August 2011 timeframe.
Within this webpage, Connexion will be posting all the information we've collected, all the articles we've written related to the rare earth metal, supply / demand issue. Please access our collection of articles and downloads below:




Please scroll down this page for more Rare Earth data and resources:

Rare Earth Connexion Articles 

PDF Download Download the Connexion Quick Fact Sheet 'Rare Earth Metals: The Impact of Short Supplies to the Electrical and Lighting Industries'

PDF Download Our 'Connexion Customer Lamp Price & Availability FAQ' download is in the process of being updated to reflect newest information.
In the meantime, please contact your Connexion sales representative with any questions.

Date Connexion Articles:
June 8, 2011
July 9, 2011
July 14, 2011  TCP Sheds Light on Rare Earth Phosphors
July 16, 2011 Philips Speaks Out on Phosphor Crisis
August 1, 2011
NY Times: Rare Earth News 
An Environmental Protection Agency official responds to an Op-Ed about the increasing demand for rare metals used by energy-efficient technologies.
Innovation may outpace the supply of the rare metals that power it.
From mining to power to waste, there is a physical footprint in the online experience.
The change comes as China lost a World Trade Organization case on rare earths brought by the United States and other trading partners.
The World Trade Organization lands hard on Beijing’s protectionist export controls.
Beijing’s reduction in exports of rare earth elements, purportedly on environmental grounds, violated World Trade Organization rules, the group concluded.
This week: a $75,000 ride into the stratosphere, a rare earth element cleanup in China and there’s no fooling the baby.
Export restrictions have done little to slow the devastation resulting from rare earth mining, including contamination that threatens the water supply of millions.
Rare earth prices soared after China imposed a two-month embargo on shipments to Japan in the autumn of 2010, but have now crashed.
As people in emerging economies adopt more mobile technology, global metal needs will be three to nine times larger than all the metals currently used in the world.
Rare Earth Video News 

Watch our collection of videos addressing the global Rare Earth Metal crisis.
Click on the video icon to go to our rare earth video page

Watch the videoRare Earth Elements Stocks - Pele Mountain Company Watch the videoCoffman on CNN: Rare Earth Metals
Watch the videoLighting and Phosphors in CFLs Watch the videoMORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD? - China's Rare Earth Minerals Consolidation
Watch the videoRare Earth Prices Rise, Chinese Regime Limits Supply Watch the videoWTO Says China Broke Rules on Rare Earth Metals
Watch the videoCongress Eyes Potential Rare Earth Shortage Watch the videoRep. Dahlkemper Fights to End U.S. Dependency on China for Rare Earths
Watch the videoThe Rare-Earth Crisis Watch the videoDigging Deep for Rare Earth Metals
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