Substition hurts rare earth demand

Subsitution is driving rare earth demand down, according to analyst Dudley Kingsnorth speaking at an industry conference in China. Kingsnorth is executive director of Industrial Minerals Company of Australia.

Dudley told the Metal-Pages(TM) Minor Metals and Rare Earth Conference in Beijing last September that he is dropping projected demand of rare earth oxide per annum to 170,000 tonnes from a previous forecast of 195,000.

For example manufacturers of rechargeable batteries may start using lithium ion materials instead of a nickel-metal hydrid, which uses the light rare earth lanthanum.

The economic slowdown is also hampering demand, but long-term demand will be strong and global demand in 2020 will be 240,000 to 280,000 tpa.

Kingsnorth said there are a group of rare earth elements that will continue to be short supply: europium, terbium, dysprosium, and erbium along with the light rare earth neodymium.

The future supply of dysprosium is of significant concern.

MINING.com reported in the past that the price of abundant rare earths could halve as hybrid-makers find alternatives.

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