Rare Earth Elements or rare earth metals are a group of seventeen elements bearing similar properties. Key elements in the group include lanthanum, praseodymium, cerium and neodymium. According to a new study by Hexa Research, high demand for rare earth elements like cerium and lanthanum in applications like automobiles, metallurgy, phosphors, glass, etc. will drive global market growth. Rising demand for permanent magnets in electronic, wind turbine and automotive sectors will translate into high demand for neodymium. Phosphor is essential to manufacture of consumer electronic components like LCD screens and CRT displays. Elements like terbium, europium and yttrium are used in the phosphors industry. Hexa Research predicts that the global Rare Earth Elements market will reach $10.96 billion in 2020.
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Factors like limited reserves, strict regulatory guidelines, complicated extraction process and heavy capital deployment are likely to adversely affect market growth. Creation of elements from recycled waste is an area of opportunity for future.
China, with more than 93% of the global production, was the largest producer of neodymium in 2012. The country’s potential as a key supplier of Rare Earth Elements is likely to be hampered by stringent regulatory stipulations on indiscriminate mining activities.
Hexa Research observed that Cerium was the largest consumed Rare Earth Element in 2013. It accounted for more than 40% of the total market that year. Main applications of cerium included petroleum refining and metallurgy. Application categories of Rare Earth Elements as determined by the research are catalysts, magnets, metallurgy, glass and polishing. Permanent magnets grabbed highest market share in 2013 followed by catalysts and metallurgy. Hexa Research expects permanent magnets to experience fastest growth in the coming years.
Growing end-use industries in developing Asia Pacific regions like China, India, Malaysia and South Korea will accelerate demand for the Rare Earth Elements market in the near future. Asia Pacific fetched revenues close to $3.8 billion in 2013. China was both, the largest consumer and producer of Rare Earth Elements in 2013. This will contribute to Asia Pacific experiencing the fastest growth at a CAGR of 11.5% from 2014 to 2020. Growth in automotive sector in ROW countries will also contribute to market growth. Molycorp and Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare Earth HI-Tech Co. were the dominant players of the Rare Earth Elements industry in 2013.