Rare Earth Elements

Rare Earth Elements (REEs) are a group of 15 metallic elements (lanthanides) that are found throughout the Earth's crust. The term "rare earth" is a misnomer as rare earth elements have a similar abundance in the earth's crust to nickel or tin. However, the occurrence of concentrated, economic REE deposits are rare. Individual REEs seldom exist in pure form; they are usually found within minerals such as allanite, zircon, and monazite. Rare Earth Elements have similar properties that cause them to often be found together in mineral deposits.

Rare Earth Elements can be subdivided into light and heavy REEs based on atomic weight. The light rare earth elements are lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, and samarium. The heavy rare earth elements are less common and consequently more expensive, and consist of europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, and lutetium. 

For several decades, REEs have become increasingly important to our everyday lives. The high-tech world that we live in today is made possible with REEs - they are important components in a diverse range of applications, including clean energy, medical technologies, defense systems, robotics, and electronics. Due to their unique magnetic, luminescent, and catalytic properties, REEs have become irreplaceable in our modern world.

The most valuable REEs are those that can be used to make permanent magnets used in electric vehicle motors and wind turbines. There are four REEs that play a key component in the production of high-strength permanent magnets: neodymium (Nd), dysprosium (Dy), praseodymium (Pr), and terbium (Tb).  Together, these four elements are termed "magnetic" rare earth elements (MagREEs). The Search Minerals CREE District has several deposits and prospects which have high-grade, economically viable concentrations of MagREEs.

Adamas Intelligence forecasts that global magnet rare earth oxide consumption will triple by 2035 from USD $15.1B this year, to $46.2B by 20351. This growth is due to several factors:

  • High demand from automobile manufacturers as several companies expand their production capacities and move towards electric vehicle production. Passenger EVs have grown from 10 million in 2020 to an unprecedented 16.5 million in 2021. This figure is projected to reach over 180 million by 2030.2
  • High demand for clean energy, as both Canada and the European Union are aiming for net-zero emissions by 2050. In 2021, wind electricity generation increased by a record 17%, and this rate will need to more than double annually to achieve the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 scenario.3

By volume, MagREEs were responsible for over 45% of global REE consumption in 2021. However, by value, MagREEs were responsible for 95% of the total value of global REE consumption1.

This share is poised to expand further as demand for (and prices of) MagREEs continue to rise strongly in the years ahead. By 2030, it is projected that MagREEs will drive 55% of global REE demand by volume and over 95% of the market's value each year1. Adamas Intelligence forecasts magnet rare earth oxide shortages from 21,000 tpa by 2030 to over 68,000 tpa by 20351. Search Minerals will supply 1,437 tpa of magnet rare earth oxides, amounting to 6.8% of the predicted 2030 shortage, and 2.1% of the 2035 shortage. In other words, about 48 Deep Fox and Foxtrot-sized mines will be needed to eliminate the projected shortages in 2035.

Forecasted global production-demand balance for rare earth oxides used in permanent magnets.

With the growing global focus on green technology and renewable energy, REEs are more important than ever. That's why a stable, domestic source of these elements is essential. Search Minerals is poised to become a critical part of the North American and European rare earth supply chains in the coming years.

  1. Adamas Intelligence (2022). Rare Earth Market Outlook; A Custom Report for Search Minerals.
  2. IEA (2022), Global EV Outlook 2022, IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/reports/global-ev-outlook-2022, License: CC BY 4.0
  3. IEA (2022), Wind Electricity, IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/reports/wind-electricity, License: CC BY 4.0