Rare earth metals (REM) are the group of seventeen metallic elements that have distinctive luminescent, magnetic, and chemical properties, which makes it significant in varied high-technology industries, especially in low-carbon technologies. According to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), the REM or rare earth elements (REE) consists of Cerium (Ce), Dysprosium (Dy), Erbium (Er), Europium (Eu), Gadolinium (Gd), Holmium (Ho), Lanthanum (La), Lutetium (Lu), Neodymium (Nd), Praseodymium (Pr), Promethium (Pm), Samarium (Sm), Scandium (Sc), Terbium (Tb), Thulium (Th), Ytterbium (Yb), and Yttrium (Y).

Rare earth elements (REE) are used in applications such as glasses & polishing, metallurgical alloys, magnets, catalysts, magnets, ceramics, phosphors, and others. Growing sales of the automotive industry are expected to boost demand for rare earth metals from 2018 to 2025. Moreover, rare earth metals are used for chemical processing such as petroleum refinement as an industrial catalyst.

Rare earth oxides (REO) find its applications in the mature market comprising catalysts, metallurgy, and glassmaking, contributing a share of about 60.0% in global consumption of rare earth metals. Growing applications such as permanent magnet, battery alloy, and ceramic together contributes to the remaining share in the market.

Market Dynamics

Factors such as rapid industrialization and increasing population, coupled with growing manufacturing and automotive industries are boosting demand for rare earth metals in the market. According to Brookings Institution, China was the leading market in terms of manufacturing output, with over US$ 2.0 trillion output in 2017, followed by the U.S. and Japan, contributing US$ 1.8 trillion and US$ 1.0 trillion, respectively. The manufacturing industry is expected to grow in the near future, which in turn is likely to increase demand for rare earth metals during the forecast period.

On the basis of rare earth metals (REMs), cerium is the leading segment in the global rare earth metals, owing to its large consumption in refining and metallurgy process.

Factors such as raw material shortages coupled with depleting reserves are few of the major restraints, which are projected to hamper growth of the rare earth metals market. Moreover, emerging demand for clean energy, along with various government initiatives are likely to reduce mining activities of rare earth metals.

Market Outlook

  • Based on applications, glass & electronics segment dominated the global rare earth metals in 2017, owing to the usage of these metals in glass polishing and tinting, fiber optics, lasers, and display phosphors (LCD and plasma screens, compact fluorescent lamps, cathode ray tubes, and medical imaging). According to Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology (MAIT), the India electronics industry emerged as the significant market in 2017. As a result, the demand for rare earth metals is likely to grow from the India electronics industry. Furthermore, REE is the focus of recent times, attributing to its contribution to modern technologies including screen of smartphones and televisions, and batteries of electric and hybrid cars.
  • Asia Pacific held the dominant position in the global rare earth metals market in 2017, owing to large consumption and application of rare earth metals in manufacturing and electronics industries in emerging economies such as India and China in the region. China being the largest producer across the globe contributing for approximately 95-97% of the overall supply of rare earth metal in 2017. The governments of various countries are undertaking various initiatives to condense environment hazards. For instance, China imposed a ban on excessive mining activities in order to reduce resource exploitation.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the demand for critical REEs (Neodymium, Europium, Dysprosium, Terbium, and Yttrium) is predicted to grow during the near future. In addition, environmental hazards associated with mining have compelled countries like China to impose a ban on excessive mining activities to reduce resource exploitation.

Key Players

  • Major players operating in the global rare earth metals market include Lynas Corporation Ltd., Avalon Advanced Materials Inc., Greenland Minerals Ltd., Iluka Resource Limited, and Alkane Resources Ltd.
  • Key players are undertaking various strategic initiatives including new product developments and mergers & acquisitions, in order to survive in the competitive business environment. For instance, in 2016, Shenghe Resources Holding Co Ltd. entered into a strategic partnership with Greenland Minerals. The aim of Shenghe investment’s in Greenland Minerals was to expand the company’s business of rare earth resources outside China and facilitate long-term growth opportunities.

Market Taxonomy

On the basis of metal, the global rare earth metals market is segmented into:

  • Cerium
  • Dysprosium
  • Erbium
  • Europium
  • Gadolinium
  • Holmium
  • Lanthanum
  • Lutetium
  • Neodymium
  • Praseodymium
  • Promethium
  • Samarium
  • Scandium
  • Terbium
  • Thulium
  • Ytterbium
  • Yttrium

On the basis of application, the global rare earth metals market is segmented into:

  • Magnets
  • Catalysts
  • Alloys
  • Glass & Electronics
  • Others (Ceramics, Phosphors, and Additives)

On the basis of region, the global rare earth metals market is segmented into:

  • North America
    • U.S.
    • Canada
  • Europe
    • U.K.
    • Germany
    • Italy
    • France
    • Russia
    • Spain
    • Rest of Europe
  • Asia Pacific
    • China
    • India
    • Japan
    • ASEAN
    • Australia
    • South Korea
    • Rest of Asia Pacific
  • Latin America
    • Brazil
    • Mexico
    • Argentina
    • Rest of Latin America
  • Middle East
    • GCC
    • Israel
    • Rest of Middle East
  • Africa
    • Northern Africa
    • Central Africa
    • South Africa

Key Developments

Key players in the market are focused on adopting partnership and collaboration strategies to enhance their market share. For instance, in January 2018, Lynas Corporation Ltd. signed an agreement with Robert Bosch GmbH, a leading global supplier of technology and services to secure Robert Bosch GmbH’s Rare Earth needs for magnets used in its business.

In June 2019, Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. entered into a definitive agreement with Cheetah Resources Pty Ltd. to collaborate in the development of the rare earth resources on its mining leases collectively comprising the Nechalacho Project at Thor Lake near Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada.

Increasing research and development activities related to rare earth metals is expected to boost the market growth. For instance, in May 2018, researchers from Kuwait University developed lanthanide-doped ceria nanoparticles as silicon solar cell back-side coaters, showing their influence on the solar cell efficiency.

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