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What Are They & Why Do They Matter?
Rare earth metals are actually not rare in and of themselves but tend to be present with other compounds in very small quantities. Rare earth metals are used for a myriad of reasons including electronics, fuel cells, fiber optics, magnets, CRT’s and LCD’s, as well as their extensive use in green technology.
Here is a more detailed list. (source: http://energy.gov)
- Rechargeable batteries (in camcorders), cell phones, PDAs, laptop
- Computers and other portable devices.
- Wind turbines, drinking water filters, petrochemical catalysts,
- Polishing powders, hydrogen storage, fluorescent lighting, flat panels,
- Color televisions, glass, ceramics and automotive catalysts.
- Fiberoptics, dental and surgical lasers, MRI systems, as medical
- Contrast agents, in medical isotopes and in positron emission
- Tomography scintillation detectors.
- Magnetic refrigeration
- Rechargeable batteries used in hybrid vehicles
- Permanent magnets
- Military application
China Raises Rare-Earth Export Quota
According to an article in the Wall St. Journal, by James T. Areddy and Chuin-Wei Yap
“China’s government eased its restrictions on rare-earth exports for the first time since 2005 in an apparent nod to a trade fight over Beijing’s tight global grip on production of the strategically important minerals.
But industry executives said the move will do little to shake China’s dominance of a market crucial to industries as diverse as oil refining, electric vehicles and ballistic missiles.
China’s Ministry of Commerce said Wednesday that it will permit 2.7% more volume of rare earth—30,996 metric tons—to leave the country this year than it did in 2011. The increase follows a number of tighter limits imposed …”
One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure
Americans continue to toss out materials that utilize rare earth metals. China profits from our waste by recycling them. They are refurbishes, repurposed and sold right back to the American market at a huge profit. At what point will Americans recognize the potential in this waste?
According to a research by Dr. Peter Dent from Electron Energy Corp., The total world market size for rare-earth magnetic materials was:
- $9.1 billion in 2007 and is projected to grow to
- $12 billion in 2011 and to
- $21 billion by 2020
In this segment of The Clean Energy View, host, June Stoyer talks to expert, Jack Lifton, a Founding Principal of Technology Metals Research, LLC and a Senior Fellow of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security. Click here to listen to the interview on iTunes or use our podcast player below:
Bio: Jack Lifton is also a consultant, author, and lecturer on the market fundamentals of the technology metals, the term that he coined to describe those strategic rare metals whose electronic properties make our technological society possible. These include the rare earths, lithium and most of the rare metals.
Educated as a physical chemist, specializing in high-temperature metallurgy, Jack was first a researcher before becoming both a marketing and manufacturing executive. Finally, he became a metal trader specializing in the field of technology metals and of rare metals. Today, after 48 years of industry involvement, he advises both OEM high tech industry and the global institutional-investment community, on the natural resource issues that impact either a proposed business model or a high-volume manufacturing plan for the mass market. His work today is principally as a due-diligence consultant for institutional investors, looking into opportunities where rare and technology metals availability are a factor in determining the probability of commercial success of a metals-related venture. Stay tuned!
3 thoughts on “Recycling Rare Earth Metals: What Does China Know That We Don’t?”
We have become a nation that throws things away rather than reusing and repairing. My grandmother never threw something away unless it was truly beyond repair and then she salvaged any parts that might be useful in the future.
This is a really good article. Why doesn’t the American Government refurbish, re-purpose, and sell our rare metals found in junk back to America?
What a good question! I’d like to know what they know and why we keep tossing things away that can be ‘reused’. We seem to be on this out of control course ruining Earth and ready to blame someone else instead of facing the music to make positive changes.
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