Used in everything from electric vehicles to solar panels and headphones, rare earths are all around us, but the path to get them into products is complex
In one of his first acts after taking office earlier this year, U.S. President Joe Biden ordered a review of the rare earth supply chain, a group of 17 elements that are increasingly important to modern technology.
Used in electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines, military defence programs such as missile guidance systems, headphones, motors and many other advanced technologies, nearly all politicians have come round to the idea that they’re critical to the future economy and security.
“I don’t think the average person realizes how deeply rare earths have seeped into the fabric of daily life,” said Ryan Castilloux, an analyst at Adamas Intelligence, a research firm, in Ontario. “They’re all around us.”
The expected growth curve is high. Adamas Intelligence forecasts that global demand for rare earths will increase at a compound annual growth rate of seven per cent through until 2030.
Looked at another way, there’s a type of magnet made from rare earths that accounts for 90 per cent of the sector’s value, and it’s predicted to grow even faster at 10 per cent through 2030, from around 62,000 tonnes per year today to 148,000 tonnes per year by 2030.
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