Can rare earth activities in US catch up in time?
For a few years now worries about a rare earth metal shortage have been growing. Several times this topic has been covered on this blog regarding rare earths and hybrid cars, most recently in: Just how important are rare earth metals? and Hybrid crazy China: Supply and demand manipulation?.
And the worries seem to be intensifying.
“The situation is nothing short of a crisis,” says Karl A. Gschneidner Jr., a senior metallurgist at Iowa State University’s Ames Laboratory who has been studying rare-earth materials there since the 1960s, according to fascinating piece by Chemical and Engineering News . “There is nearly zero rare-earth mining, processing, and research going on now in the U.S.,” claims Gschneidner.
Today, Electron Energy, the last US rare earth metal magnet producer – the type of magnets critical for countless technologies – is worried.
“We’ve seen rare-earth prices increase steadily in recent years,” claims Eltectron's CEO Peter C. Dent, “but until now, we have been able to get the supplies we need. We’re very concerned now about the long-term availability of these materials.”