Increasing permanent magnets demand is anticipated to augment global rare earth elements market growth over the next five years. Rare earth elements are also known as rare earth metals and belongs to a group of seventeen elements which comprise similar properties. The group consists of fifteen lanthanide series elements and yttrium and scandium. Major elements include lanthanum, praseodymium, cerium and Neodymium. These elements together constituted total rare earth elements market accounting for over 74% in 2013. The elements have major applications in technology products such as TVs, computers & tablets, nuclear batteries, super conductors, miniature, laser repeaters, military technology, various medical devices, permanent magnets and rechargeable batteries. These are also applied as catalysts in petroleum refining and automotive industries and as pigments in ceramic and glass. Mostly Neodymium is used in permanent magnet manufacturing process. Growing applications of permanent magnets in automotive industries are expected to bolster the rare earth elements market growth. Growing applications of rare earth elements as a metal catalyst is projected to drive the market growth over the forecast period. Majorly lanthanum and cerium are used as catalyst in petroleum refining and metallurgical process. Increasing petroleum and metals demand is anticipated to surge the market growth over the next five years. Scarcity of these metals and depletion of existing reserves is expected to hamper the global rare earth metals market growth. The expected depletion of the metals includes dysprosium and neodymium owing to increasing consumption worldwide. China was the largest producer of neodymium in 2012 accounting for over 93% of global production. Environmental regulatory bodies in many nations such as China have banned excessive mining to restrict resources exploitation. This is projected to have negative impact on rare earth elements market over the next five years.
Major products in the market include Lanthanum, Cerium, Neodymium, Yttrium, Gadolinium, Praseodymium and Dysprosium. Cerium followed by Lanthanum was the largest consumed product segment in 2013 accounting for over 40% of the total market. Cerium is broadly used in petroleum refining and metallurgy process. Increasing demand for fuel and metals is projected to boost the rare earth elements market over the forecast period. Neodymium is one of the most popular earth metals and has applications in permanent magnets. Increasing applications of permanent magnets in electronic and automotive industries is anticipated to fuel the market growth in the near future.
Rare earth elements market is segmented on the basis of applications into catalysts, magnet, metallurgy, glass, and polishing. Permanent magnets were the dominant application market in 2013 on account of increasing applications in automotive and wind turbine. This segment is anticipated to be the fastest growing market in near future. Catalysts and metallurgy contributed for the second major market accounting for over 37% of the total market in 2013. Catalysts are used in several industries such as glass, ceramic, metallurgy, and polishing.
Asia Pacific dominated the rare earth elements market in 2013 owing to economical utilization of reserves. The product demand is projected to grow at rapid pace due to increasing end-use industries in emerging economies such as China, India, South Korea and Malaysia. China was the dominant producer in the region owing to huge number of reserves in 2013. China was also the largest consumer due to increasing applications in end-use industries. RoW is expected to grow significantly on account of increasing automotive industries. Russia has reserves accounting for about 19%, the U.S. with 13%, Australia with 5.4% and India over 3%.
The global rare earth elements market is highly concentrated as few participants contribute for most of the market. Molycorp and Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare Earth Hi-Tech Co. were the largest players in the market together accounted for over 37.5% market share in 2013. Other market players include Indian Rare Earths Ltd, China Rare Earth Holding, Lynas Corporation Limited and Great Western Mineral Group.
Research Support Specialist, USA