“Is the future of thorough control in Chinese rare earth industry… the incapability of creating neodymium magnet?”

                                          IRUNIV 2013/08/19

 It’s already reported on IRUNIVERSE for a several times, that Chinese Industrial Authorities, such as The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is developing a thorough purification operation of rare earth industry in China on an unprecedented scale.
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photo1 Some people said, “Didn’t we begin from rare earth as the pre-event to tighten the overproduction in the whole China?”, but there’s also voices that were more concerned about the future of the Industrial Authorities control. According to the Rare Earth Veteran sources, “If we continued this way, it may looked like we’re going to refine as much as in the order-related mining plan and production plan, but refining up to the plan practically will cause lacking in material for neodymium magnet. The market price probably will rise temporarily. However, this time, if that happens, it will be completely different with rare earth, and the demand itself will be collapsed.”

 In a sense, the world rare earth demand is the illegal mining of China. While the illegal mining coexisted, balance was still kept. It’s even not an exaggeration to say that a market has been formed on an assumption of illegal mining. But, it’s also a fact that the market became confused for that reason.

*Market Price Transition of Metal Neodymium (2011〜)

 The rare earth price made a sudden drop at a peak rate in summer of 2011, and the northern major parcel steel rare soil repeated a production stop, but the situation did not improve for the better.   Furthermore, the acuteness of industry confusion is the one to be concerned. Overmining does not stop, the illegal suppliers grow powerful, and the operation of regular company is suppressed. In 2012, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology led and performed the activity of supervision, and supervised 14 illegal mining base, performed shutdown to 20 ore dressing and refinement companies, and blockaded about 30 thousand tons of production capacity.

 The vice chief of Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Su Bo admitted, “Problems that have been piled up for a long term, still don’t have a drastic solution.”
 The illegal mining, production without plans or above the plan, illegal transaction, smuggling, etc. of rare earth are widespread. On the surface, it looked like the rare earth order-related production plan can’t be achieved, but in truth, a mining and production outside the plan was being performed and disturbing the market system. The rare earth products that were produced illegally like this, were sold to the downstream companies through various routes and smuggled abroad. Therefore, the rare earth price didn’t rise, and the regular company was hit by a large fall in both revenues and profits. In addition, while a surplus of refinement, separation, and production capacity was said, among the companies that had been ordered for a closedown and shutdown, there were some that passed through eyes of the supervision, moved to other ministries and continued the illegal production.

“Neodymium magnet can’t be created?”
photo2 The order-related mining (production) plan of China is decided by The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology every year. The ones that became target of the rare earth order-related production plan management are, rare earth minerals and smelting separation products that are produced and sold by the rare earth mine and smelting separation companies, and rare earth minerals that are imported from the foreign countries and rare earth products that are extracted from rare earth waste. However practically, almost all of these mining and production plans weren’t protected. The authorities was also loose in monitoring.
 In 2012, the amount of order-related mining is 93,800 tons (oxide conversion), production is 90,000 tons (same as above). In 2013, the standard was almost the same. Actually, China did the mining and production twice of this amount
 If going according the order-related production plan, the northern ore (bastnasite) is 70,000 tons, and ion adsorption ore is 20,000 tons. According to an intelligent person, “It’s already not enough to produce Neodymium magnet on this point.”
 
photo3 The didymium which is rare earth mixture of Neodymium (Nd) and Praseodymium (Pr) is used in the mass production factory of the Neodymium magnet. This Neo-plastic (didymium) is 14,000 tons among the 70,000 tons production of northern ore, and the Ion adsorption ore is 10,000 tons of 20,000 tons, so the Oxidation Didymium is a total of 24,000 tons. For making the Metal Didymium from this is 19,000 to 20,000 tons. If going logically, only 56,000 to 57,000 tons of Neodymium Magnet can be made. By the way, the production capacity of Neodymium magnet alloy maker in China is nominally 100 thousand tons (also said to be 300 thousand tons…). It won’t be enough either for these nominal based production capacities. The Dysprosium will become insufficient, too.
 Then, about whether to import Didymium from the foreign countries, as to be known, because almost the earth rare production location that has been developing narrowly on the foreign countries are mostly light rare earth elements, even if the Didymium production can be achieved, it would be insufficient. For example, in the case of US Molycorp whose future’s committing is noticed, “only about 1000 to 1200 tons of Oxidation Didymium can be produced” (The person in charge who is well informed of Rare Earth Industry). Australian Linus also can’t be expected to be so. Then, undersea rare earth of Japan? “It’s impossible even after 300 years” (same sources as previous).

photo3 Of course, this will give influence to the production of Japanese Neodymium Magnet alloys. The amount of Japanese Neodymium Magnet Alloys production is 30 thousand tons. At least, it will need 10,000 tons of Didymium, but if going until the monitoring reinforcement of China is thorough and until practically doing the order-related plan, it will be completely insufficient. To fill the gap of lacking amount by the above-mentioned Linus and Molycorp will probably so difficult. It’s not an exaggeration to say that including the costly meaning, it will be impossible.
 If that happens, then the market price will rise and it will become the concerned words ahead. “If The Chinese Authorities do things too excess, then this time the rare earth market will broken, and demand will be lost”. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to soften the order-related production plan to an appropriate and realistic production amount?
(IRuniverse Susan)

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