Lynas Corp is planning to shut down production temporarily over December at its rare earths Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Malaysia once reaching its annual production quota in end-November. It has yet to secure approval to increase annual production levels from local authorities. The production limit was reached ahead of time, based on the addition of the Lynas NEXT programme, which increased neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr) production from 500tpm to 600tpm by September, ahead of the January 2019 schedule. Lynas Corp is the largest producer of rare earths and NdPr outside of China and the second-largest producer globally after China Northern Rare Earths Group, based in Inner Mongolia.
In other rare earths news, Innord, a subsidiary of Geomega, announced in November that it has partnered with the University of Liege who for a pilot study on recycling hybrid and electric vehicle magnets, working together with a major vehicle manufacturer. Innord is developing its ISR technology of separating REOs from recycled permanent magnets, specifically neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium.
The rare earths industry is turning its attention to neodymium and praseodymium, which are the key ingredients in permanent magnet motors used to efficiently convert the electrical energy stored in electric vehicle (EV) batteries. Roskill estimates the neodymium supply-demand balance to be in equilibrium as of 2017, which is in line with a focus from the global supply-side to increase NdPr production and keep up with EV growth.
Secondary supply of NdPr is not yet a major part of raw material supply to the rare earth magnet industry, because of the difficulty and cost in recovering small magnets used throughout different electronic applications such as HDDs, acoustic transducers and small motors. As such, much of the near-term demand for NdPr will need to be accounted for by primary supply (and stocks). Lynas and China Northern Rare Earths are expected to remain the leading NdPr producers, both showing the potential to increase capacity if supported by local and national governments.
Roskill is publishing its 18th edition of the Rare Earths: Global Industry, Markets and Outlook to 2028 in December. The report outlines a fundamental shift in the rare earth industry to one defined by neodymium supply and demand dynamics, which is related to the electrical vehicle revolution taking hold of the automotive industry. Neodymium is forecast to remain in a tight market throughout the next decade, as this generation of EVs benefits from higher-efficiency motors offered through the use of rare earth magnets.
Hybrid EVs and pure battery EVs use between 1kg and 3kg of neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) magnets in standard drivetrain motors. Once the EV market matures and models reach their end-of-life, the feedstock of larger secondary EV (and wind turbine) motor magnets will offer a growing raw material source. Roskill expects secondary magnet supply, excluding swarf usage, to begin to account for a critical and growing market share of NdPr supply towards the end of the next decade.
Roskill’s new Rare Earths: Global Industry, Markets & Outlook report will be published in December 2018 and include supply, demand and price forecasts out to 2028. Click here to download the brochure and sample pages, or to access further information.