Neodymium Market: Introduction
Neodymium (atomic symbol: Nd) is a rare earth element; however, contrary to the group’s name, neodymium is the third most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust, having an abundance of about 28–38 parts per million. Neodymium is found in ore minerals such as monazite and bastnasie and is commercially extracted by solvent extraction and ion exchange processes. Neodymium is soft and silver in nature but changes its color based on the surrounding light due to the fluorescent effects.
Neodymium is widely used to manufacture powerful magnets and is one of the raw materials used to manufacture permanent magnets, i.e. Neodymium-Iron-Boron (NdFeB), also known as NIB magnets. These magnets are widely used in cell phones, computers, wind turbines, toys, motors, audio systems and medical equipment. Attributing to the high power of these magnets, neodymium has enabled the miniaturization possible in the electronics industry. Neodymium doped yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd: YAG) is used as a high power laser, which find numerous applications such as in the treatment of skin cancers and in laser hair removal. Neodymium’s strong magnetic properties have made it possible for MRI scanners to accurately image the bone structure without having to use radiation.
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Neodymium Market: Dynamics
The increased awareness regarding electric vehicles and the subsequent surge in the demand for these vehicles from consumers are pegged to be the key drivers for the neodymium market. Attributing to its magnetic strength, neodymium has been garnering attention from electronic automotive manufacturers for application in magnetic motors. As it is more efficient, strong and light-weight as compared to copper coils, the demand for neodymium will witness an upward trajectory throughout the forecast period. Further, government support towards electric vehicles is also expected to create opportunities for the neodymium market during the forecast period.
On the other hand, the introduction of alternative magnets based on lanthanum and cerium, which are more economical than neodymium-based magnets, may restrain the growth of the market. Also, the mining of rare earth metals in not environment-friendly and thus, stringent environmental regulations may restrict rare earth metals mining, which may potentially disturb the global supply chain. Moreover, the high cost of neodymium contributes to its relatively fewer commercial applications.
Automotive players engaged in the manufacture of electric vehicles are also increasing the adoption of neodymium. For example, Tesla Inc. has announced the use of neodymium-based magnets to power magnetic motors for its Model 3 Long Range car, which has created an upsurge in the neodymium market.
Neodymium Market: Regional Outlook
Majority of rare earth metals, including neodymium, are produced in China. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, China accounts for over 75–80% of the global supply. The wide dependence on China for neodymium will create a state of unrest if the country restricts its international trade. However, being a WTO member, the China Ministry of Commerce announced that the country would not put any limitations on neodymium’s export. On the other hand, China did put an internal limit on the mining of neodymium. Outside China, Australia is the second largest producer of neodymium, followed by the African nation, Burundi. North America, followed by Europe, is expected to be a big market for neodymium, due to the rising demand for electric vehicles in the region. The electronics industry in Japan is booming and thus, the demand for neodymium is expected to rise in the near future. However, China is pegged to remain the largest producer as well as consumer for neodymium.
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Neodymium Market: Market Participants
Some of the market participants identified across the value chain of the global neodymium market include Neo Performance Materials Inc., Lynas Corporation Ltd, GanZhou QianDong Rare Earths Group Co.,Ltd., China Minmetals Rare Earth Co. Ltd., Arafura Resources Ltd. and Alkane Resources Ltd.
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