Rare earth metals are a group of seventeen metallic elements, including fifteen lanthanides, with atomic numbers 57 (lanthanum, La) to 71 (lutetium, Lu), together with yttrium (Y, atomic number 39) and scandium (Sc, atomic number 21). Cerium oxide, an abundantly found rare earth metal, is used as a catalyst in catalytic converters and various metal alloys to reduce emission in automotive exhaust system. Rare earth metals enhance the efficiency of industrial processes such as catalytic cracking, chemical catalysis, glass manufacturing, automotive emission control, energy storage, energy efficient electrical motors, manufacturing lighter and less brittle steel alloys, energy efficient fluorescent lamps acoustic devices, and military and defense electronics. These metals are also used in positron emission tomography (PET) scan, magnetic resonance imagery (MRI) contrast agents, x-ray tubes, nuclear medicine imaging, and portable x-ray machines, for application in genetic screening tests, medical cancer treatment applications, and dental lasers. Rare earth metals have unique luminescent, magnetic, and electrochemical properties, exhibiting reduced emissions, weight, and energy consumption, due to which they are increasingly being used in advanced technologies.
Rare Earth Metals Market Taxonomy
On the basis of product type, the global rare earth metals market is segmented into:
On the basis of applications, the global rare earth metals market is segmented into:
Scandium is primarily used to strengthen metal compounds for various industrial purposes. Yttrium is a non-lanthanide, which in used in superconductors, powerful pulsed lasers, cancer treatment drugs, rheumatoid arthritis medicines, and surgical supplies, among others. Increasing prevalence of such cancer and rheumatoid arthritis is in turn, increasing demand for rare earth metals. Lanthanum finds it application in wastewater treatment, petroleum refining, camera, and telescope lenses. While, praseodymium is used in the manufacturing of aircraft engines and in flint for starting fires. Increasing demand for air transportation due to growing population is expected to increase demand for praseodymium, which are used to manufacture aircraft.
Rare Earth Metals Market Outlook – Increasing Demand for Recyclable and Environment Friendly Materials to be the Major Market Driver
The market in Asia Pacific is expected to witness rapid growth over the forecast period. According to The Wall Street Journal, China produces around 90% share of the total rare earth metals globally. The growth of the market in this region is thus attributed to high number of rare earth metal resources found in countries such as China and India. In India, the production of rare earth metals is under the control of the Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL), a governmental undertaking under the administrative control of the department of Atomic Energy. According to Scientific American, India is authorizing a plant to produce up to 5,000 tons of rare earth metals per year, which would help India to contribute around 5 percent to the global supply of the rare earth metals.
Increasing demand for renewable energy such as hybrid automobiles, next generation rechargeable batteries, wind turbines, and biofuel catalysts are expected to boost growth of the rare earth metals market, which are used in such application. However, fluctuating prices of these metals, use of alternative substances, and challenging mining of metals due to their unusual concentrations, are expected to restrain growth of the rare earth metal market.
Major companies operating in the global rare earth metals market include Lynas Corporation, Avalon Rare Metals Inc, Greenland Minerals and Energy, Iluka Resources Ltd., Alkane Resources Limited, Rock Tech Lithium Inc., Artemis Resources Limited, and Great Western Minerals Group.
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