China to become net importer of some rare earths has published a very interesting article concerning the drastic evolutions in the global rare-earth (REE) market. The key finding: “REE demand will boom from 2020 onwards as growth rates of top end-use categories including electric vehicles, wind turbines and other hi-tech applications accelerate. As China’s insatiable demand for rare earth elements continues to grow over the coming ten years, China’s domestic production will struggle to keep up in all scenarios examined herein, leading the nation to become a net importer of certain rare earths at the expense of the rest of the world’s supply security.” This corroborates – more than ever – the importance of a strong EU REE recycling sector, which should focus in particular on permanent magnets (e-cars, e-bikes, wind turbines etc.). SIM² KU Leuven contributes through its various REE recycling projects such as ETN EREAN (permanent magnets in general), ETN DEMETER (e-cars) and H2020 NEOHIRE (wind turbines). In the future this should lead to the provision of ample quantities of Nd and Dy from EU (urban) sources. Likewise, REE recovery from EU industrial process residues (e.g. red mud – cf. ETN REDMUD) should be high on the research agenda as well. (PTJ, 12/1/2017)

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