The US manufacturing industry, especially the green energy industry, always needs rare earths, but they are heavily dependent on China, at least for the next five years.
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On December 15, the US Department of Energy published a report warning that the US is too dependent on China's rare earth supplies, making the US economy vulnerable to short-term minerals. this.
Rare earth mining in China.
The report is expected, the United States may take 15 years to escape its reliance on China for rare earth supplies and call on the US to increase research into alternative sources and expand pipeline development.
Rare earths involve a lot of green energy technologies, from energy-saving light bulbs to electric cars, large wind turbines, which all require rare earths.
The report said that in the next 15 years, at least the supply of five rare earths is still vulnerable, including: dysprosium (Dy), terbium (Tb), neodymium, europi and yttrium. The supply of these 5 rare earths is estimated at 96-99.8% in China.
Dy said that Dy has become the most important rare earth and most easily hindered in the supply of green energy industry.
Australia's well-known rare earth mining advisor, Kingsnorth also said that Dy may be in short supply, expected to make at least five years ahead, the application of new rare earth technology by the green energy industry suffer. slow down.
In parallel with finding opportunities to exploit rare earth from abroad like Vietnam, Japan plans to recycle 13 rare earth metals to produce high-tech products that will be recycled from electronic devices such as Mobile phones and electronic game machines.
In addition, the Japanese Government will mandate the recycling of rare earth metals from small electronic products. Approximately 10-20 types of electronic devices may be included in the list of products to be recycled, including digital cameras, camcorders, DVD players and microwaves.
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Japan has issued legal documents on compulsory recycling of large household products such as air conditioners, refrigerators, televisions and cars. However, the country still has no mandatory regulations to recycle mobile phones and some other electronic devices containing a relatively large amount of rare earth metals.
In recent years, the demand for rare earth metals in the world is increasing rapidly as sales of electric cars and other eco-friendly electronic products are increasing. By 2020, lithium demand may increase by 203 times, while manganese demand will increase by 161 times compared to today.
Japan is trying to diversify the supply of rare earth metals to avoid reliance on China, the world's largest exporter of rare earth metals and currently providing 97% of Japan's rare earth metal demand. .
In rare earths, at least 96% of the most important types are currently being exploited and produced in China. Beijing has adopted management and control to limit exports of rare earths, facilitating their manufacturing industry.
The report reflects a new perspective, that is, the US needs to own rare earth resources to ensure the viability of the US green energy manufacturing industry. This report has been quite pessimistic about the possibility of the US escaping from its reliance on rare earths.
China holds 99.8% of the 5 major rare earths. From 2006 onwards, China taxed 15% on light rare earths such as La, Ce, and 25% for heavy rare earths such as Dy, Tb.
In the world, almost only southern China has exploited Dy, this rare earth in China is priced at 95 USD / kg, but after taxing the price is up to 135 USD / kg.
Not only that, on December 14, China announced in 2011 that it will increase export taxes on some rare earths. Restricting Chinese exports, coupled with cheap labor, a large government subsidy, makes China increasingly able to dominate the green energy industry that needs rare earths, such as wind turbines.
China's increased control of rare earth exports may prompt foreign companies such as US Molycorp Company and Australia's Lynas Group to enter or return to rare-earth mining, but rare earth mining follows. The plans of these two companies are mainly light rare earths, and the production of many medium and heavy rare earths is important for green energy is relatively few.