Rare Earths - Strategic inputs to Sustainability
As part of the Ifri Energy Breakfast Roundtable, a seminar with James B. Hedrick, President, Hedrick Consultant Inc, and Christian Hocquard, Expert and Economist, BRGM). Chaired by William C. Ramsay, Senior Fellow and Director of the Ifri Energy Program and Jacques Lesourne, President of the Scientific Committee of the Ifri Energy Program.
Den Xiaoping may have been right back in 1992 when he declared that while “Middle East has oil, China has rare earth”. Since 2000 the price of Rare Earth Elements, a group of 17 minerals, increased five-fold. The world markets until then very much focused on energy or water security of supply began to acknowledge the implications of the concentration of 95% rare earth production in China. In 2008, rare earths were labelled ‘highly critical" raw materials by an US National Research Council Report. China is aware of its clear market dominance as seen in its recent claim to reduce export quotas reduction and create a 200 000t strategic reserve.
Rare Earth Elements are needed in particular for high technologies products such as wind turbines, electronic consumer goods, nanotechnologies, clean vehicles batteries, motors and various military applications. A potential supply disruption could hamper the development of a green market economy as well as the refashioned industrial strategies in Europe designed to drag Europe out of the economic doldrums and ensure its future competitiveness.
Ahead of the European Commission review of its raw material initiative, this conference aims to assess the current situation regarding supplies, market developments, environment and challenges that lie ahead.