Our high-tech, energy-efficient future depends on Nd-Fe-B magnets. Nd-Fe-B magnets are keystone components towards our transition from a fossil-fuel burning, carbon emissions society to a cleaner, quieter, and safer world. However, the production chain for rare earth raw materials, including mining, refining, and melting, has major environmental impact.
Mining and the production of raw materials and rare earth elements includes extremely environmentally detrimental practices and processes including: beneficiation, acid roasting, leaching, and solvent extraction. For rare earths, production creates byproducts including thorium (Th) and uranium (U). The overall impact on the environment is significant by many measures: global warming, radioactivity, acidification, carcinogenics, eutrophication, ozone depletion, ecotoxicity, smog, and others.
As we usher in the age of electrification, it is crucial that Nd-Fe-B magnets widely support the development of electric motors in order to reduce energy requirements and strain on resources and the environment. Furthermore, as Nd-Fe-B magnets and rare earths power the future, it is important to re-examine and improve the traditional “mine-to-surface” model.
it is time for ideology to catch up to technology.
supply chain risk for Nd-Fe-B rare earth magnets
threatens the development of high-tech, energy efficient
applications necessary for our future.
The supply chain for rare earth elements and rare earth magnets is highly centralized and unstable affecting supply availability and price volatility. The supply chain for rare earths and Nd-Fe-B magnets is dominated by China – all operations including mining through manufacturing occur in China. In the last decade, China has demonstrated anti-competitive behavior and leveraged its dominance over the rare earth and magnet supply chain to pressure global industry and exert geopolitical pressure on the U.S. and other nations. Severe acute supply availability and price volatility scenarios have affected end-users and poses significant ongoing risk to the U.S. defense and commercial industrial base as well as global supply chains.
China controls greater than 90% of the supply chain for rare earth raw materials and more than 85% of manufacturing for Nd-Fe-B magnets. The U.S. is 100% dependent on China.
For the last decade, and especially in recent years due to trade tensions and crippling global health crises, end-users across key industries have suffered supply chain risk threatening their operations and the development of high-tech, energy efficient applications.