Uses of Critical Minerals and Heavy Rare Earths

There is a critical demand for rare earths, as they play a vital role in the manufacturing of electric vehicles and other high-tech applications.

With China being a dominant force in the rare earth industry, supplying approximately 90% of global demand and consuming approximately 70% of global supply. Supplies of heavy rare earths from China are likely to become scarcer and the push to reduce the world’s dependence of fossil fuels and decrease carbon emission, is expected to have a significant growth in the rare earth market in the coming years.

The full list of heavy rare earths is dysprosium, yttrium, terbium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, yttrium and lutetium.

Dysprosium, yttrium and terbium are considered critical in the heavy rare earth groups as they face low supply and increasing importance in the development of clean energy technologies.

Applications of Critical Minerals & Heavy Rare Earths

Clean and renewable energy

A growing number of wind turbine generators incorporate rare earth magnets in their operations. A modern 3MW wind turbine users 600kg of rare earths

Hybrid & Electric Vehicles

Hybrid and full electric vehicles contain large quantities of rare earths. A typical hybrid car contains approximately 28kg of rare earths, including 1kg in the motor and 10-15kg in the battery. Rare earth magnets are also used extensively in small ancilliary electric motors, including starter motors.

Manufacturing & Transport

Catalysts are a major market for rare earths, particularly catalytic cracking (FCC) catalysts to seperate petroleum products (such as fuels) from crude oil, and automotive catalytic converters to reduce harmful emissions in exhaust gases.

Modern Healthcare

Rare earth magnets are a key component of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); and average MRU machine contains 700kg of rare earth metals. Rare earth metals are also used in diagnosis and treatment of ailments including some cancers and rheumatoid arthritis.

Electronics & Communications

The unique properties of rare earths are crucial for the latest fibre optic technologies that power the internet and telephone communications. They are also essential for a range of electronics, including computer components, global position systems (GPS), sonar, defence systems and lasers.

Personal Technology & Rechargable Batteries

Rechargeable batteries power many electronic devices (including electric cards). Approximately 25% of nickel-metal hydride rechargeable batteries  are rare earths. Rare earths are also essential for various lightweight computer components found in smart devices, including global positioning systems (GPS)