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Critical Minerals

What are Rare Earths?

Rare earth elements (REEs) are a group of 17 elements that are essential for a range of high-tech applications, including renewable energy technologies, electric vehicles, and advanced electronics.

REE’s have a wide array of unique properties that relate to magnetism, luminescence, catalysis, and conductivity. As a result, new applications are constantly being developed, with those applications concentrated in advanced, mature markets such as electronics, ceramics, glass making, lighting and metallurgy.

As the world reduces its dependence on fossil fuels through global electrification, rare earth demand is growing rapidly due to the demand for permanent magnets used in applications such as wind turbines and electric vehicle motors. The key 'Magnet Feed' rare earths are Neodymium & Praseodymium (NdPr) used in NdFeB magnets and Dysprosium & Terbium (DyTb) that are essential in the production of high performance permanent magnets used in high temperature operating applications such as Electric Vehicle (EV) drive trains.

Leading consultancy group Project Blue expect that global demand for NdPr oxide will increase by 136% in the next 10 years and that the global demand (outside China) for key heavy rare earths DyTb will outstrip non Chinese supply  ninefold, making the western world increasingly dependent upon Chinese production sources and putting Chinese domestic supply under  pressure.

Critical Minerals for a Sustainable Future.

The importance of rare earths in the production of clean energy technologies cannot be overstated. Rare earth metals are a key component in permanent magnets needed for global electrification and decarbonisation. As the world moves towards net-zero and companies are put under increase pressure to deliver sustainable, environmentally sound operations, a stable supply of vital rare earth elements (REEs)  

Most permanent magnets are composed of iron and boron (NdFeB) along with approximately 30% neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr). In addition, lesser quantities of dysprosium and terbium are added to improve the magnets’ ability to maintain magnetism at high temperatures and hence improve the magnets’ performance. Critical applications such as reducing greenhouse emissions are in wind turbines and electric traction motors for electric vehicles (EVs).

 

Projections suggest the market will remain tight for NdPr supply well into the 2030's with Adamas Intelligence forecasting an 11-fold increase in NdPr consumption by 2035, equating to a 1000% increase in demand from today.

Securing an ethical, economically robust supply chain for these metals has become a focus of governments as geopolitical tensions with China have highlighted the world’s dependence upon China for both supply and processing of rare earths. Despite its vital nature the global supply of REEs is limited, with almost all of the production and downstream processing concentrated in China and Myanmar.

 

The development of high-quality rare earth resources in jurisdictions such as Australia is a vital step in securing critical strategic metals for technologically advanced industries and establishing a premier, integrated mineral sands processing industry with Darwin at its centre.

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