Much has been written recently about the impact of China' s rare earth element (REE) embargo. In a nutshell, China, the world' s largest rare- earths producer, cut export quotas for the minerals needed to make hybrid cars and televisions by 72 percent for the second half, raising the possibility of a trade dispute with the U.S.
Shipments will be capped at 7,976 metric tons, down from 28,417 tons for the same period a year ago, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce.
The unique chemical, magnetic, electrical, and optical properties of the REE have led to an ever increasing variety of applications. These uses range from automobile exhaust catalysts to consumer products that include phosphors in color television and flat panel displays (cell phones, portable DVDs, and laptops), to rechargeable batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles, and numerous medical devices. There are important defense applications such as jet fighter engines, missile guidance systems, antimissile defense, and space-based satellites and communication systems. Permanent magnets containing neodymium, are used in hard disk drives and wind turbines.
During the past twenty years there has been an explosion in demand for many items that require rare earth metals. Rare earth metals and alloys that contain them are used in many devices that people use every day such as: computer memory, DVD' s, rechargeable batteries, cell phones, car catalytic converters, magnets, fluorescent lighting and much morel
Other substances can be substituted for rare earth elements in their most important uses, however, these substitutes are usually much less effective and have a higher cost.
Manufacturers of a broad spectrum of high-tech products are feeling the impact of price hikes in rare earth element-based processing materials because of the Chinese embargo, according to our report “ Rare Earths Elements In High-Tech Industries: Market Analysis And Forecasts Amid China' s Trade Embargo. ”