Industry  |  Publications  |  13.07.2011

Study on Rare Earths and Their Recycling

A study undertaken for the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament on the development of a European strategy for a sustainable rare earth economy.

During recent years technological innovations resulted in manifold applications using rare earths which lead to a steep increase in their demand. A relevant share of the increasing demand is caused by so-called “green technologies” which are designed to contribute to environmental protection in terms of reduction of the energy consumption, the further development of renewable energy carriers or air pollution control. There is serious concern that the demand of some individual rare earth elements such as neodymium, praseodymium dysprosium, terbium, lanthanum, yttrium and europium might exceed the present supply within a few years.

The high demand and the expected supply shortages, additionally triggered by Chinese export restrictions, lead to a significant increase in rare earth prices. This steep increase is not only a burden for manufacturers and consumers. It offers the chance to address the problem of today’s rare earth supply in more depth and to build up a sustainable rare earth economy in all relevant sectors.

The report addresses in particular the recycling, the substitution and the efficient use of rare earths and develops a strategy towards a green rare earth economy.

Edited extract from executive summary.

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