STUDY GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
Rare earths are a group of 17 metallic elements that have similar chemical structures with unique properties. BCC has followed the rare earth market for more than 15 years, reporting on all the latest technical and market developments. During this period, consumption of these materials has expanded by a factor of three and many new products containing these elements have been introduced. With this study, BCC Research continues its commitment to monitoring the rare earth market. BCC will provide an updated review of the most important advances in rare earth technology and production, a detailed overview of the current market, and an objective analysis of prospects for future growth.
Specifically, the major objectives of this study are:
- Provide an updated review of rare earth technology, focusing on materials, sources, and applications
- Highlight new technological developments during the past 3 years as they relate to rare earths
- Review existing fields of application for rare earths and investigate emerging applications
- Supply an updated worldwide overview of resources and rare earth production
- Describe the market evolution since 2009 and estimate 2011 global markets by application and rare earth element, with growth forecasts through 2016 for each market segment
- Identify important technological and market trends within each market segment
- Provide an updated review of current producers of rare earth materials and other relevant industry players
- Determine trends in U.S. patents issued during the past 2 years.
REASONS FOR DOING THIS STUDY
The first rare earths were discovered in the late 1700s, although commercial applications for these materials remained limited until the 1960s. During the last 50 years, due to the ongoing development of new applications, utilization of rare earths has steadily increased. Technologically advanced devices used in automobile, defense, metallurgy, electronics and optoelectronics, chemical, energy, and other fields owe some of their outstanding properties to the presence of rare earths.
In 2009, global demand for rare earths reached nearly 112,000 metric tons, with no meaningful slow-down in demand expected.
Beginning in the mid-1980s, China surpassed the United States as the leading supplier of rare earths. With very large reserves of rare earths, China’s overwhelming price advantage through economies of scale made most mining operations in other parts of the world unprofitable, strengthening China’s position as the leading producer of these elements (China currently accounts for over 90% of global rare earths production).
In recent years, China has adopted various regulations to control the mining and export of rare earths and has increased enforcement efforts to better protect the environment and safeguard supplies for its growing domestic market. As a result, China has reduced export quotas for rare earths, causing worldwide shortages of these materials and, consequently, rapidly rising prices.
The principal reason for doing this study is to provide an updated and comprehensive assessment of the rare earth industry, particularly as it relates to the evaluation of resources, the status of mining projects worldwide, current and future pricing of rare earths, alternative sources, and growth in demand for products containing these materials.
There is also a need to evaluate the current status and future trends of the rare earth industry from a global standpoint. As use of these materials expands, information on regional production, sales, and types of suppliers becomes more valuable.
An equally important reason for undertaking this study is to provide technical insights regarding rare earth production by:
- Illustrating the latest technological developments.
- Supplying a review of current and emerging applications.
- Identifying supply and demand for the 17 elements.
- Identifying current technical issues.
- Providing a detailed patent analysis.
This information can assist companies in finding alternative sources for rare earths and identifying opportunities for process and productivity improvements, resulting in a positive impact on future market growth.
This study will be of primary interest to all companies that:
- Manufacture, sell, and distribute rare earths and rare earth–based products
- Are involved in the exploration and mining of rare earth elements
- Develop technologies that utilize rare earths
- Produce special alloys
- Fabricate advanced ceramics
- Manufacture glass for optical applications
- Offer technical and/or marketing services to firms that produce high-performance materials.
Overall, this study applies to industry sectors such as metallurgical/mechanical, glass and ceramics, electronics, optical and optoelectronics, chemical, energy, life sciences, sensors and instrumentation, and consumer products.
The study is mainly directed toward executives, directors, operations managers, sales and marketing managers, and strategic planners working within the above industries. Universities and research facilities may also find this study to be a good source of technical information regarding rare earth materials, sources, technology, and applications, which can be used as a baseline for new or expanded R&D activities. Librarians of technical information and research centers can also use this report to provide critical data to product managers, market analysts, researchers, and other professionals who need detailed and updated insights into the rare earths industry.
SCOPE OF REPORT
This study provides an updated review of rare earth materials, sources, pricing, and production processes, and identifies current and emerging applications for these materials.
BCC Research determines the current market status of rare earths, defines trends, and presents growth forecasts over the next 5 years. Supply and sourcing issues, including the latest developments, are also discussed.
BCC Research analyzes the rare earth industry on a worldwide basis from the standpoint of both manufacturing and consumption, and provides profiles of leading industry players.
A detailed U.S. patent analysis provides further insight regarding market and technological developments.
More specifically, BCC’s market analysis is divided into seven parts.
In the first part, a historical review of rare earths is provided, including an outline of recent events. In this section, current and emerging applications for these materials are also identified and divided by sector (e.g., metallurgical/mechanical, chemical, energy, and electronics).
In the second part, the latest process developments and improvements related to rare earth production are outlined, followed by a summary of global production by country.
The third part of the report provides a detailed analysis of the geographical distribution of rare earth sources, discussing the major rare earth mining activities in each country, including supplying an updated assessment of world reserves, a status report on the most important mining projects, and global production forecasts.
Past, present and future price trends are presented and discussed in the fourth section.
The fifth part of the report entails a global market analysis of rare earths. Global consumption of rare earths (in metric tons) are presented by industry/application and by element, with actual data referring to the years 2009 and 2010, and estimated data for 2011. Global rare earth revenues (data in millions of dollars) by industry are also provided.
This section also offers a presentation of market growth trends based on industry growth and technological trends. Projected consumption for rare earths is reported with forecast CAGRs (compound annual growth rates) for the period 2011 through 2016.
In the sixth part, covering global industry structure, the report provides a complete list of rare earth suppliers with a description of their products. The analysis includes a description of the geographical distribution of these firms and an evaluation of production versus consumption for rare earths, always from a geographical standpoint. Detailed company profiles of the top industry players are also provided.
The seventh and final section includes an extensive analysis of U.S. patents, with a summary of patents related to rare earth materials, processes, and applications, issued during the period 2009 through 2011. Patent analysis is performed by region, country, assignee, patent category, application, and material type.
METHODOLOGY AND INFORMATION SOURCES
Both primary and secondary research methodologies were used to obtain market data and analyze the overall market and market segments.
The technology section of this report is based on information derived from technical literature, related BCC reports, professional journals, the author’s field experience, and online sources.
Global market analysis was performed by analyzing 127 suppliers of rare earths, accounting for at least 90% of the global market. Data for each company were obtained by thoroughly analyzing Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, Internet websites, annual reports, industry directories, industry magazines and catalogs, government sources, and other public sources.
Additional data were obtained from the direct contribution of primary sources, including: company executives, managers, engineers and other technical personnel representing suppliers of rare earths and rare earth–based products; representatives of academia and trade associations; and industry market analysts.
Secondary sources of information include:
- U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
- EDGAR — U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Filings
- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
- European Patent Office
- Company websites
- Company annual reports
- Thomas Register
- Moody’s Directory
- S & P Industry Survey
- Dun & Bradstreet Business Directory
- American Ceramic Society Publications
- Foreign Chamber of Commerce Directories
- Foreign Stock Exchange Listings.
In addition to utilizing the above primary and secondary sources, market growth trends and forecasts were compiled by gaining additional insights from relevant financial and market information, relevant BCC reports, and the author’s own in-depth and comprehensive analysis of the collected information.
Margareth Gagliardi, BCC’s chief research analyst in advanced materials, has more than 25 years of experience in the field of advanced materials, specializing in ceramic formulations, materials processing, and new product development. She has held management positions in both manufacturing and R&D within U.S. and European firms that produce electronic, mechanical, chemical, and structural components. She holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and an M.S. in Ceramic Engineering.
Ms. Gagliardi has authored numerous BCC Research studies, including the following that are related to advanced materials and electronics:
- SMC037D Sputtering Targets and Sputtered Films: Technology and Markets, 2011
- SMC070A Paper-thin Displays: Technologies and Global Markets, 2011
- EGY068A Supercapacitors: Technology Developments and Global Markets, 2010
- AVM014D Ceramic Matrix Composites: Technologies and Global Markets, 2010
- NAN043B Nanofibers: Technologies and Developing Markets, 2010
- AVM069A Photocatalysts: Technologies and Global Markets, 2010
- SMC061B Atomic Layer Deposition, 2010
- AVM046B Thick Film Devices, Processes and Applications, 2010
- AVM018F Rare Earths: Worldwide Markets, Applications, Technologies, 2009.
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The information developed in this report is intended to be of a professional nature and is as reliable as possible at the time of publication. This information does not constitute managerial, legal, or accounting advice, nor should it be considered as a corporate policy guide, laboratory manual, or an endorsement of any product, as much of the information is speculative in nature. The author assumes no responsibility for any loss or damage that might result from reliance on the reported information or from its use.