The Anchor House, Inc.
Research on Rare Earth Elements

The Anchor House, Inc.

Metal Events Ltd.’s 9th International Rare Earths Conference

November 18th, 2013

By Clint Cox

Last week in Hong Kong, on November 12-14, Metal Events held it’s annual Rare Earth Conference.

About 200 delegates participated in this year’s big event. There was representation from all over the world, and across various parts of the industry. Hong Kong was a bit rainy this year, but we didn’t let that dampen our spirits regarding the tremendous opportunity for spending time with industry experts and trying to understand the current state of the rare earth market.

Shangri-La_HongKong

The Venue: Shangri-La Hong Kong

 

Venue

Inside the Conference Hall

 

Now let’s get to it!

Wednesday_carpet

Elevator carpet on first day

DAY ONE

Constantine Karayannopoulos, President/CEO of Molycorp Inc. presented the keynote address, and he didn’t disappoint!  He is always full of excellent quotes and market insight. Some of my favorites from the talk:

“We’re all serving the industry, we have very little control.”

“The industry has had to live with a crisis of confidence that was unprecedented.”

“Our job is to return confidence to the industry.”

Karayannopoulos went on to emphasize the need for “Predictable pricing so that there are no more shocks or rude surprises in the industry”. This is critical, so that end users will have the confidence to stay with rare earths for the long term.  He provided some excellent historical perspective, calling 2001-2005 the “dog days of rare earth” and stating that 2004 may provide a good sense of a floor on pricing (if inflation and currency appreciation are factored in).

Over the years, Karayannopoulos has spoken about the importance of the magnetic rare earths: praseodymium (Pr), neodymium (Nd), dysprosium (dy), and terbium (Tb). He stated that these elements remain critical, and will be the basis of the industry moving forward.

 

Judith Chegwidden, Director, Roskill Consulting Group presented “A review of key developments in the Chinese rare earth industry in 2013”. This was a fantastic talk with a well-informed perspective on the Chinese REE industry, including the players involved and a great snapshot of  data.  One of the most profound statements she made was regarding the impending World Trade Organization (WTO) decision about rare earths. She said that, “The WTO decision is largely symbolic”. This is because the rest of world (ROW) demand has been declining.

 

Clovis Antonio de Faria Sousa, Production Superintendent, CBMM gave the talk “CBMM’s rare earth process & products development”.  It was fascinating to hear the details about the rare earth potential of the Araxa project in Brazil, which has been the most significant niobium (Nb) mine in the world. While pyrochlore is the Nb mineral, the target REE mineral is a monazite.  His most interesting statement was that CBMM would not stop this process, but would continue with REE processing regardless of what the market does, as REE is a by-product, and they will continue mining Nb for the foreseeable future.

 

Yasushi Watanabe, Prime Senior Researcher, Institute for Geo-Resources & Environment, AIST spoke on “Japan’s search for alternative rare earth supply – from recycling to the seabed”.  Watanabe is a brilliant resource of knowledge with respect to the Japanese market for rare earths. He provided statistics to show the consistent decline of both Japanese REE demand and Japanese imports since 2008. Between 2010 and 2012, there was a substantial decline in cerium (Ce) imports due to the efficiencies created in the polishing industry in the wake of the 2010 crisis and the following 2011 price spike. Across each segment of the REE market there have been substitutions, more efficient methods employed, and decreased usage in applications that have all substantially lessened demand.  Watanabe also described expectations for new sources to come into the market by 2013-2014. His list included:

  • Mount Weld
  • Mountain Pass
  • Placer sands from India
  • Uranium deposit from Kazakhstan
  • Bauxite deposit from Jamaica

He also listed a variety of “On-going exploration and scientific projects”.

 

Pavel Detkov, Director of Polyfer Handels GmbH, presented “Developments in the CIS rare earths market”.  I have heard Dr. Detkov speak before, and he has a tremendous grasp of REE projects in the CIS countries. He has a knack for telling it like it is with admissions such as, “All projects are late”, and calling the location of Tomtor “the coldest place on our planet”.  This is refreshing in an industry that likes to sugar-coat the bland, the sweet and the sour alike!  His list of potential CIS rare earth projects is exhaustive, but he chose to focus on a few projects and their activities and potential – especially in the Kola Peninsula.

 

Junior REE Companies

The following junior resource companies presented after lunch on the first day:

  • Frontier Rare Earths Limited
  • Avalon Rare Metals Inc.
  • Alkane Resources Ltd.
  • Matamec Explorations Inc.
  • Hastings Rare Metals
  • Rare Element Resources

 

Thursday_carpet

Elevator carpet on second day

DAY TWO

Xu Tao, Vice President of Baotou Research Institute of Rare Earths, was unable to attend the conference, but the talk, “Processing and utilization of rare earth solid waste” was still presented. Waste residues of polishing powder usage and waste residues of rare earth permanent magnet production was discussed at length. Chemical compositions of the residues were very interesting showing 27% of NdFeB residues were REO and 34% of SmCo residues were REO. It was then discussed (very technically) how rare earths could be recovered from the residues.

 

Karin Soldenhoff, Manager Process Development & Research, ANSTO Minerals gave an illuminating presentation regarding “The impact of radioactivity on rare earth processing”.  I would never have imagined that a description of the decay chain of uranium (U), thorium (Th), and their progeny could have been helpful to a layman (such as myself), but the talk simplified a very difficult subject matter so that even I could understand it (at least a little). She clearly explained safe levels of radioactivity.


The next talk was “Preparation and application of rare earth sulphide for pigments”, by Liu Jiangang, President, Hongbo (TE) Technology Co Ltd.  Environmental pigments were described in detail during this presentation. Also, grinding materials, rubber additives, and monomer rare earth sulfides were discussed.

 

After that, the presentation was “Chinese rare earth applications in environmental catalysts”, by Jia Liwei, Chief Engineer, Wuxi Weifu Environmental Catalysts Co Ltd.  This presentation was given in Chinese without translation so I’m not entirely clear what was said, however, some of the slides were translated. From what I could tell, it was a very detailed presentation regarding auto catalysts. The rare earths mentioned were Ce, Pr, La, Nd, Sm, and Gd.


The final presentation was given by Sue Shaw of Roskill Information Services Ltd., “The impact of rare earths price volatility on substitution”.  Shaw gave an excellent overview of the recent rare earth market, and provided plenty of data and charts to enhance the presentation.  The specific applications that she focused on were:

  • Permanent Magnets – showing reduced consumption in some applications, but still critical in others
  • Phosphors – HREEs are still critical but being used more efficiently, LED will use less REEs, and warm light LEDs may use more Lu
  • FCC Catalysts – Manufacturers of FCC developed lower REE catalysts during price spike, but now have quickly switched back to higher REE products now that Ce & La prices have returned to lower levels

 

It was an excellent event, as always, and the organizers provided ample time for mingling and chatting between sessions. These breaks were great times to catch up, compare notes and learn from some of the best in the industry.

MEHK2013_sign

Special thanks to Metal Events as well as Roskill (for supporting), and all of the event’s sponsors!

Rare Earth Industry Goes to Shanghai!

September 17th, 2013

By Clint Cox

Metal Pages and the China Chamber of Commerce for Metals, Mineral and Chemicals Importers and Exporters (CCCMC) put on a fantastic conference in Shanghai on 11-13 September 2013. There were about 200 attendees from about 20 countries, with the largest contingent being from China. The presentations were informative throughout the Conference, and the coffee breaks were lively.

LeMeridienHotel

 The Conference Hotel

There were many questions hovering over the industry as the Conference began, including (but not limited to):

  • Where are rare earth (REE) prices headed?
  • Has the market reached a bottom?
  • When will Molycorp and Lynas reach full production?
  • What impact will the impending WTO decision have?
  • What are the costs associated with Chinese environmental cleanup?
  • How effective is the Chinese crackdown on illegal mining?
  • How is the consolidation of the Chinese rare earth industry progressing?

 

The Venue

 

Let’s get to the content and some highlights from the speakers!

 

DAY ONE

Liu Yinan, VP, CCCMC
Analysis of the Changes in Changes in China’s Rare Earth Export Market

Mr. Liu Yinan was both an informative and gracious host, welcoming the guests and then giving an excellent talk about the general market. He spoke of China’s GDP doubling by 2020, but also recognized the difficulties faced by today’s world economy.

He thinks that prices will not further decrease — especially with the light rare earths (LREEs). Heavy rare earths (HREEs) have not yet reached a stable level, however. He also acknowledged that there would be a big increase in foreign supply moving forward.

 

Zhang Zhong, General Manager, Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth (Group) Hi-tech Co., Ltd.
Current Status of Overseas Rare Earth Resources Outside of China and their Impact on the Industry

Mr. Zhang Zhong mentioned several projects including Mountain Pass, Mount Weld, Lovozero, and countries including Australia and India. He described the market dynamics of the dramatic price spike and subsequent fall since 2010 as a roller coaster, and recognized that this has placed many companies in a dilemma.

It was stated that although the cost of production has been rising in China, it will likely remain the lowest cost producer. The challenges that foreign producers have been facing are also very difficult, and there will likely be an over capacity of LREEs in the world.

According to Zhang Zhong, lower prices will be maintained for a long time.

 

Frank Tang, Senior Analyst, Metals & Mining, NSBO, China
Rare Earths: The Chinese Government’s Impact on Supply and Prices

Mr. Tang gave a wide-ranging talk on the Chinese REE market, and emphasized that the issues that caused the price spike in 2011 will not happen again. He also stated that price movement is different for each element.

His thoughts regarding the WTO case were very interesting and definitive, stating that the export restrictions will be removed.

Regarding consolidation, Mr. Tang looked to the future stating that it is still the Chinese government’s intention to reduce the number of REE companies from 123 to 2 or 3. (WOW – that would be a huge reduction!).

 

Eric Noyrez, CEO Lynas Corporation
Rare Earths: Famine or Feast

Mr. Noyrez provided some very interesting commentary on a variety of subjects.

Lithium batteries haven’t completely taken over the market yet, and there still seems to be room for REE batteries. There may even be a lanthanum (La) shortage by 2020.

He said that the low pricing before 2005 was unsustainable, and that prices are currently too low to produce 11,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) from the LAMP facility.

He quoted The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) as saying that there were 40,000 tonnes of illegal mining in 2012 in China. That’s a LOT of illegal mining!

 

Dudley Kingsnorth, Professor, Curtin Graduate School of Business, Curtin University, Australia
The Rare Earths Industry: Undergoing Rejuvenation

Dudley is one of the most heralded voices of the REE industry, and people are always interested in his point of view. Professor Kingsnorth did not disappoint! He suggested that demand in 2013 may be somewhere between 110,000-125,000 tonnes, and that the rare earth industry could be headed into another Golden Age by 2016-2017.  One of the most eye-popping numbers that he forecasted was that demand could be 250,000 tonnes by 2020!

One of his other salient points was that rare earth demand has proven itself to be “price elastic”. As prices went up, REEs were replaced or reduced in a number of different applications including:

  • Polishing powders
  • FCC catalysts
  • Wind turbines
  • Hybrid vehicles

This is good to remember, as many people said that the REEs were irreplaceable before prices spiked in the past few years.

 

John P. Sykes, Director, Greenfileds Research Ltd., UK
Beginning with the End in Mind – Strategies for Rare Earths Miners and Explorers

One of my favorite slides from the entire Conference was one that Mr. Sykes used to describe recovery rates. He showed very clearly that you have to multiply the recoveries of each stage (from mining, processing, cracking, separation, etc.) to reveal the overall recovery of a project. It became quite clear that you could very quickly end up with nothing if you didn’t have satisfactory recoveries at each stage.

 

Kevin D. Morris, Senior Vice President of Rare Metals, Senior Vice President of Administration, Molycorp, Inc., USA
Magnets Session: Addressing Today’s Market Concerns and Preparing for the Trends of Tomorrow

Mr. Morris gave an overview of progress at Mountain Pass, as well as excellent descriptions of different types of magnets. He explained how the magnets are used in the automotive industry, appliances and computing.

One of his key points was that the period of 2010-2012 was a time of high price volatility, and that increased risk substantially for magnet users. Many manufacturers were dissuaded from using magnets or looking for cheaper substitutes during this time period.

 

Dr. Jia Liwei, Deputy General Manager, Wuxi Weifu Environmental Catalysts Co., Ltd. China
Catalysts Session: An Update of Rare Earths’ Applications in Environmental Catalysis

Dr. Jia Liwei gave one of the most in-depth descriptions of the autocatalyst market I have ever heard, although highly technical, I found the details fascinating. Rare earths are not only critical in the current generation of autocatalyst technology, but it is possible that the next generation of technology may be even more deeply reliant on the REEs.

 

Zuo Haibo, Deputy General Manager, Jiangmen Kanhoo Industry Co., Ltd., China
Lighting Session: The Status of the Rare Earth Luminescent Material Industry and Future Trends

The market for rare earth phosphors is one of the most rapidly changing in the entire industry. Mr. Zuo Haibo gave an exceptional overview of the both the recent history as well as where the market is trending. One shocking statistic that he presented was that in 2011 there were 40 trichromatic phosphor powder companies operating in China, but in 2012, 19 of those companies shut down, one changed production and 5 more shut down but still sell product. Yikes! That’s some rapid change.

The cost performance of LED lighting products is improving swiftly, and the market is leaving incandescent bulbs and fluorescent lighting behind very quickly. This is causing a dramatic decrease in demand for the REEs in phosphors, and Mr. Zuo Haibo’s forecast is that phosphor demand will continue to decrease through at least 2015. This decrease is important, as demand for europium (Eu) and terbium (Tb) primarily comes from the phosphor industry.

 

Nick Kotaki, Managing Director, Material Trading Company, Japan
Japan’s Rare Earth Market – Demand and Supply

Mr. Kotaki displayed charts that clearly showed the relative decline in demand for REEs from Japan. The overall decline seems to have begun in 2006, with significant drops in demand during the recession of 2009 and then again in 2010 following the difficulty in getting rare earth exports out of China. Also clearly exhibited was the lessening of Japan’s reliance on China for their supply of REEs.

Another chart showed how the Japanese have severely curtailed the import of cerium (Ce) for use in polishing, as they have become much more efficient in its use.

Also of note were the many different projects outside of China that the Japanese have invested in, to diversify the supply choices for Japan moving forward.

Recycling was also mentioned as a major initiative that is beginning to pay dividends for the Japanese.

 

IMG_2407

Shanghai provided an excellent backdrop!

 

DAY TWO

Chen Zhanheng, Deputy Genral Secretary, Association of China Rare Earth Industry (ACREI), China
China Rare Earth Supply in the Post-WTO Era

I saw Mr. Chen Zhanheng give a fantastic speech a few years back, and it was agreat pleasure to hear him speak again.

Mr. Chen Zhanheng presented a very candid and open assessment of the Chinese market. He chronicled the recent history starting in 1998, explaining tariffs, rebates, quotas and other details bringing us up to the present. Then he described the problems caused by illegal mining and smuggling. He stated that his organization, ACREI, had recommended to the government that they crack down on the illegal mining, and it is having an impact.

He went on to describe the influence of Chinese government rare earth regulations, including:

  • Quotas
  • Rare earth resource taxes (new ones started in 2011)
  • Tariffs
  • Pollutant emission standards (imposed since October 1, 2011)

Since 2011, the China REE industry has invested approximately 4 billion yuan (about US$ 650 million) to curb pollution. This is no small amount, and they will spend more still!

 

Taek-Soo Kim, PhD., Director, Korea Institute for Rare Metals (KIRAM), Korea
Critical Materials Session – R&D and Strategy on Rare Metals Including Rare Earths in Korea

Dr. Taek-Soo Kim had one of my favorite quotes of the conference, “Commodity and Science have to go together”. This rings with oft-ignored truth in our industry.

In Korea, the REEs belong to the general grouping of rare metals and are not separated out when the Koreans are thinking strategically about resources.

Korea’s definition of rare metal is

  • Metals which are difficult to extract from ores
  • Metals which are defined by following 3 factors
  1. Limited natural resource
  2. Price instability
  3. Biased distribution

Korea is also emphasizing the need for recycling.

There are government-supported programs underway to develop technology related to processing and recovering REEs.

 

Li Jian-wu, Associate Research Fellow, Research Center for Strategy of Global Mineral Resources in Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, China
Scorched Earth of Conservation: Evolution of China’s Rare Earth Policies and Impacts on the Industry

Mr. Li Jian-wu gave some illumination on Chinese government policies, and their influence on the REE industry.

Some policies:

  • Resource taxes have been dramatically increased
  • Export tariffs have been increased and coverage expanded
  • Export quotas decreased since 2006
  • Pollution standards enforced since 2011
  • Prohibition of mining of single monazite deposits

It is clear that the Chinese govenment is very serious about consolidating the industry and raising the cost of rare earths.

Many of the rare earth resources outside of China were highlighted, and the Chinese recognize that there will be fierce competition to supply the world with rare earths moving forward. Mr. Li Jian-wu had another one of my favorite quotes of the Conference: “Actually overseas suppliers don’t have this type of cost advatage”. He was clearly emphasizing the lower cost of producing inside China. It will be fascinating to see how world supply pans out over the next few years!  It may depend very much on cost per kg of production.

 

The following mining companies also presented before the conclusion of the Conference:

  • Northern Minerals
  • AT-Metals LLC
  • Rainbow Rare Earths

Pink Pearl

The Pink Pearl!

The Conference was one of the better conferences I have been to in quite some time.

I would like to offer special thanks to Nigel Tunna and the staff of Metal Pages, as well as Mr. Liu Yinan of CCCMC for putting together such an excellent lineup of speakers and attracting the delegates necessary to make the conference a success!

Strange (and full of geologic wonder) Lake

August 31st, 2012

By Clint Cox

I have been hearing about the geological wonders of Strange Lake for years.  Peter Cashin has been very gracious in offering a trip for the past three years. Last week, everything finally fell into place.

Strange Lake is located at the yellow pin on the map:

Strange Lake is one of the most picturesque places I have ever visited. Granted, we visited during what may have been the best week of weather all year (with very few flies), but it was still fantastic! First off, let me say that Strange Lake is actually located at Lac Brisson — not “Strange Lake”.

The beautiful Lac Brisson is pictured below:

My trip actually began in Toronto with a late snack with Mehdi Azodi, the Director of Corporate and Investor Affairs for Quest. Mehdi walked me through the latest developments at Strange Lake, gave me some details regarding the site visit, and then informed me he would pick me up early and take us to the airstrip. The next morning, Quest literally rolled out the red carpet as we boarded the chartered jet for the 2 hour 20 minute flight to Goose Bay:

There were over 15 of us taking part in the site visit, so we gathered in Goose Bay to board another charter flight bound for Strange Lake. We landed 1 hour 20 minutes later on Quest’s airstrip at the edge of the B-Zone, built on the banks of Lac Brisson:

Shortly after landing we were told we could either ride to camp or take the short walk.  I opted for the walk, and was able to stroll through the B-Zone with a friendly group on the way to camp:

We had a few minutes to acclimate to camp before the safety orientation.  Quest has established an excellent camp here, with great facilities, and (most importantly) a first-class kitchen staff. Granted, I wasn’t trekking to northern Quebec for the cuisine, but the victuals shouldn’t be ignored — every meal was great, and there were plenty of wonderful surprises. From crepes and cakes to an unexpected lobster fest (!):

No one is starving at Strange Lake!

After dinner, there were presentations regarding the processing of ore from Strange Lake led by Colin Lindsay, Vice President of Operations. He spoke about possible beneficiation processes and using a solvent extraction process to remove Zr, then Nb/Ti, followed by Th/U, and finally the REEs. Processing Strange Lake ore is a very big question for me, as they are using an approach that hasn’t been used yet (to my knowledge) in the rare earth industry. Peter Cashin has invited me to see their mini pilot plant when it is up and running this fall, so that I can understand their process better. I am looking forward to that!

I then turned in early — wanting to get plenty of rest for the big day.  After breakfast the next morning we met at the coreshack for explanations of the drill program, geology, and mineralogy.

The coreshack:

While in the coreshack, we were given an explanation of Quest’s drill program as well as an excellent description of the minerals at Strange Lake. Patrick Collins and Anthony Williams Jones (aka “Willie”) led the discussions and we were able to see some kainosite (the yellowish material below)…

… as well as a host of other minerals in the core samples.

Willie explains that the kainosite and gadolinite were formed at relatively low temperatures (~100-150 C):

To add some pizzazz, the Quest team turned out the lights and showed the effect that UV light has on the various minerals:

Oooo — flashy!

At this point I was expecting a disco ball and some 1970′s jams, but we had to settle for “I Just Want to Celebrate” (by the band Rare Earth, of course) blaring from some tiny iPhone speakers. We were told that REE-bearing minerals at Strange Lake include (but are not be limited to):

  • Kainosite
  • Gittinsite (named for John Gittins)
  • Gadolinite
  • Gerenite
  • Pyrochlore
  • Bastnaesite
  • Monazite
  • Allanite
  • Parasite

We spent quite a bit of time looking at core and watching Quest demonstrate the use of their Niton portable XRF. Then it was off to walk the B Zone.

As you walk toward the B Zone, you see the remnants of Iron Ore Company’s (IOC) original mining camp:

You can see the green hillside of the B Zone in the background. Curiously, the early geologists here would hike through the B Zone (which was not known as the B Zone back then) and then over the hill 3 kilometers to get to the Main Zone. All the while, the mineralized B Zone was underfoot. Kicking rocks is tough business, but with new innovation and determination, the Quest team found the B Zone. We walked up and spent quite a bit of time at the bulk sample pit on the side of the hill. We were able to collect several samples with Peter Cashin jumping into geologist mode and busting up some rocks for us. The sample below wouldn’t fit in my suitcase, but we were told that the dark mineral at the lower left was allanite:

After collecting samples, we traveled about 400 meters through gently undulating terrain to an outcrop of fluorite. The geologic significance was lost on me (and it was outside the boundaries of the B Zone), but this area is a zone of interest that Quest may come back to in the future. Here is some of the pretty purple rock (fluorite):

We then headed back for lunch.  After lunch we headed to the helipad for another safety briefing and then a quick ‘copter trip to the main zone. We look on while the 3rd group lands:

It took four chopper flights to get us all over to the main zone, so there was a few minutes for us to wander about and look at the rocks at old bulk sample pit. The main zone practically straddles the border of Labrador and Quebec, but of course you can’t see any lines out here — it looks fairly wide open to me! Peter Cashin was kind enough to show me the Quest discovery hole:

When the group was all present, the geologists described the Main Zone in detail:

When asked why IOC chose to dig here, the answer was that there was the least amount of overburden here–not that it was necessarily the richest geologically. We were able to see very clear examples of the mineral gittinsite (it is the reddish brown mineral on display in the sample below):

Four of us (led by Mehdi Azodi) thought it might be a good idea to traverse the marshy landscape back to camp. As we jumped from rock to rock, grass lump to grass lump, occasionally sinking to mid-shin in the muck, we realized that this was one of the most fun parts of the trip! Then Mehdi decided that we should race the chopper back — oof! Over a week later and I’m almost recovered!

Later that night Willie gave us his commentary on what he believes occurred to create the Strange Lake deposit. He spoke in animated brilliance about hydrothermal alteration (which he referred to as “hammering”), pegmatites, hypersolvus and subsolvus granites. Willie stated that he believes that Strange Lake may be part of the Gardar Rift Zone (part of which is now in Greenland), but that here is Canada it got “hammered”, while in Greenland it did not.

My heartfelt thanks goes to Peter Cashin (thank you for your patience), Mehdi Azodi, Colin Lindsay, Pierre Guay (for organizing the logistics on the ground), Patrick Collins, Willie Jones, and the incredible chefs!

Metal Pages China Conference Report

October 13th, 2011

By Terry Gatchell

 

Beijing, China. Rare Earths 2011, sponsored by Molycorp and organized by Metal Pages, Ltd. and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce for Metals (CCCMC) was held September 14-16 at the Sun World Dynasty Hotel. Other sponsors included Matamec, Rare Element Resources, Great Western Mineral Group, TUC Resources, Hudson Resources, and Kimberly Rare Earths. In contrast to last year’s Minor Metals and Rare Earth conference, which welcomed one hundred fifty delegates, the 2011 rare earth-exclusive event (minor metals had their own conference earlier in the week) topped 300 participants.  Nigel Tunna, managing director of Metal Pages, organized the program to address the “major issues affecting the rare earth market including Chinese policy and supply, the status of new production, recycling, new uses and the influence that the price increase has had on its consumption.”

 

 

The unifying theme again this year was the importance of the capacity of rest of world (ROW) suppliers to meet ROW demand. Since China’s crackdown on rare earth exports, the subsequent price increase has been felt in the gut of many downstream markets, and there was palpable anxiety in every conversation about the anticipation of the cost and availability of this new supply. While many agreed that the ROW will be self-sufficient in the production of light rare earths (LREE), the supply of non-Chinese heavy rare earths (HREE) remains uncertain. Important questions were also raised about the dependence of the rare earth market on the growth of green technology and how the paradoxical production of thorium and uranium can best be managed.

 

According to CCCMC Chairman XuXu, since last September, China has assiduously pursued the consolidation of its domestic producers from Baotou to the smallest backyard heap leaching operation. Meanwhile, China reduced its rare earth export quotas to 30,250t REO in 2010 from 65,000t REO in 2005. Citing severe competition from overseas, export duties and the “backward technology” of downstream producers, both XuXu and Li Zhong, general manager of Baotou, maintained that China is necessarily restructuring its own domestic rare earth market. Li Zhong went on to explain that resource taxes and production costs have increased while the domestic supply market is shrinking – thanks in part to new environmental restrictions. Contrary to popular wisdom, China is submitting its mining industry to new and reportedly rigorous environmental standards.  These constraints, compounded by constant pressure by the US and other WTO countries to level the economic playing field, have forced China to strategize accordingly, according to the Chinese speakers.

 

Dudley Kingsnorth, executive director of Industrial Minerals Company of Australia, (IMCOA) and the voice of reason to many in the industry, spoke with sobering pragmatism about the future of the non-Chinese rare earth market and opportunities for project development. Kingsnorth suggested that ROW demand in 2020 will be 80-100,000tpa REO and that Lynas and Molycorp are poised to meet this demand – at least for the LREE portion. Citing the existence of several hundred junior mining operations worldwide, Kingsnorth offered a few cardinal concepts for project development: 1) Process routes depend on the specific ore body, so comprehensive understanding of the mineralogy is critical, 2) The issues of uranium and thorium separation and disposal are necessarily huge, 3) Pilot plant studies are essential to demonstrate technical viability, generate samples for customer approval, provide data for the bankable feasibility study (BFS) and generate data for the environmental impact statement. Summing this section with a reminder that startup time can take 5-12 years and $US 1 billion, Kingsnorth quelled any premature delusions of success for burgeoning rare earth operations. Development of “a new process” could take 10-15 years and, according to IMCOA, the resulting mineral concentrate grades must be at least 30%REO LREE and/or 20%REO HREE. Given this, Kingsnorth maintained that there remain opportunities for junior mining operations to contribute to ROW supply, especially the supply of HREE.

 

In the race with Lynas for the lion’s share of the predicted ROW LREE market, Molycorp’s CEO Mark Smith addressed his strategies to expand, diversify, and meet its deadline to ramp up production to 19,050t by the end of 2012 and 40,000t by 2013.  Smith presented compelling evidence that Molycorp will be able to respond to changes in the market primarily by producing light rare earths more efficiently and more sustainably than the competition. Specifically, the implementation of novel, improved chemical processes and a new chlor-alkalai facility at the Mountain Pass facility, the acquisition of the Silmet facility in Sillamae, Estonia, and Molycorp Metals and Alloys in Tolleson, Arizona all give reason for its shareholders to believe in a bright future for the newly young company. Anticipating the relative dearth of dysprosium, Smith also introduced the acquisition of Boulder Wind and Power, a producer of NdFeB magnets that purportedly require no dysprosium.

 

In response to the demand for HREEs, George Bauk, managing director, and Robin Wilson, exploration manger of Northern Minerals described the xenotime deposits at the Browns Range and John Galt projects in Australia. A rare earth phosphate rich in yttrium and dysprosium, xenotime is paramagnetic and relatively low in radioactivity. Northern Minerals hopes to achieve concentrates greater than 40% by magnetic separation and flotation. Showing pie charts that suggest HREE yields that would complement those of shareholder and LREE-producer Lynas, Bauk predicts phase one drilling will begin by Q2 2012.

 

 

President of Advanced Materials Japan Corporation, Shigeo Nakamura described the status of the rare earth tech industry in Japan in the wake of Fukushima. According to Nakmura, the Japanese economy is growing again – sooner than expected – and to promote this growth, Advanced Materials considers nine rare earth projects (in addition to Lynas and Molycorp) as potential suppliers, including Stepnogorsk (Kazakhstan), Lugingol (Mongolia), Dong Pao (Vietnam), Hoidas Lake and Thor Lake (Canada), Greenland, Nolans Bore (Australia), Orissa (India) and Steenkampskraal (South Africa). With its tech industry so dependent on rare earths, Japan is heavily invested in developing a non-Chinese supply.

 

Constantine Karyannopoulos, president and CEO of Neo Materials Technologies, was on hand to indentify and dispel two myths promulgated by the media: 1) Chinese production costs are low due to environmental regulations and cheap labor. On the contrary, PRC regulations are stricter than many western jurisdictions and labor costs are a small fraction of production costs. The real reasons for low PRC production costs include the by-product economics of Baotou and the relatively simple metallurgy of processing the ionic adsorption clays. 2) Rare earths are irreplaceable, indispensable, and their prices will continue to increase. In fact, Karyannopoulos pointed out, use is a function of value, replaceability is a function of investment, effort and time, and balance is critical. He also reminded the audience that successful rare earth suppliers will possess the capacity not only to separate and concentrate the lanthanides, but will also generate a final product of the specific grade required by downstream markets.

 

Finally, Gary Billingsley of Great Western Minerals (GWM) shared updates on the Canadian mining company and its mine-to-market strategies for rare earths and its focus on the permanent magnet industry. In addition to its domestic exploration projects in Hoidas Lake and Douglas River in Saskatchewan, GWM is developing Steenkampkastraal in South Africa for its monazite sands as well as its excellent infrastructure, close proximity to rail and seaports, and license to store thorium. With construction of the mill and separation plant scheduled for completion by Q4 2012, GWM hopes to be in production by Q1 2013 with projected outputs of 5,000tpa REO, mostly LREE, and 3,300tpa (alloy produced). Great Western Technologies is located in Troy, Michigan and can produce a variety of alloys, including nickel metal hydride as well as permanent magnets and “super alloys” for aerospace applications. Given this, GWM may have a major stake in the revitalization of the US rare earth industry.

 

So as the prices of rare earth oxides have increased on average 150% since Q3 2010, the rare earth race continues, and downstream producers hang in the balance. Lynas and Molycorp have done their homework, and as the deadlines approach, the industry can only hope that they will deliver. Those with access to the crystal ball seem to concur with Kingsnorth and his “Dudley Chart,” but might we eventually need a new model – maybe one that separates the LREE from the HREE? Will green technology grow as anticipated, and how strongly does the rare earth industry depend on it? What measures can we take to make the industry as clean and efficient as the green technologies it depends on? To be sure, the successful non-Chinese rare earth suppliers have a challenging road ahead.

Rare Earth Research is Alive and Well in Santa Fe!

July 18th, 2011

By Terry Gatchell

One of Santa Fe’s wind gardens and the Loretto Chapel


June 19-23 Santa Fe, New Mexico More than 200 scientists and engineers from universities and national labs around the world met at the historic Inn at Loretto for the 26th triennial Rare Earth Research Conference (RERC) to challenge, discuss and celebrate experimental outcomes in the field of lanthanide research. As new ideas percolated among some of the best and brightest chemists, physicists and materials scientists in academia, it was difficult to fathom the lack of expertise currently felt by the rare earth industry. However, the conference agenda, which included significant participation by industry leaders, sent a clear message that efforts to bridge this gap are underway. Sponsors included Los Alamos National Laboratory, the New Mexico Consortium, ITS, and Bracco.

 

If anyone needed further proof of the ubiquity of rare earths, research topics spanned magnetism, solid state, organometallics and coordination chemistry, analytical, biomedical, and actinide chemistry. While the general direction of their work may not have changed with fluctuations in the industry, many researchers enjoyed a surge of interest in their work as a result of heightened awareness brought on by changes in the global market. Experts from both academia and industry offered ideas not only to improve communication but also to brainstorm ideas from across disciplines in order to bring lanthanide science and technology into a new and sustainable era.

 

Three rare earth rock stars (from left) Gerd Meyer, Bill Evans and John Corbett. Meyer was this year’s recipient of the Spedding Award for Outstanding Contributions to Science and Technology of the Rare Earths. Evans and Corbett were honored with the award in 2008 and 2005, respectively.

 

Gerd Meyer of the Universität zu Köln was presented with the Spedding Award for Outstanding Contributions to Science and Technology of the Rare Earths. One of the most decorated lanthanide scientists in the world, Meyer has conducted research in f-element solid state chemistry for more than 30 years. His current work with cluster complexes and coordination complexes illuminates previously misconceived properties of rare earth reactivity.

 

Spedding laureate Bill Evans from the University of California, Irvine continues to push the limits of rare earth coordination complexes as unique and powerful reducing agents. One area of Evans’ research uses rare earth metallocenes that are sterically crowded. Think of sunflowers arranged in a spherical vase – given the size of the flower and the length of the stem, there is pretty clear limit on the number that will fit comfortably. Or is there? It turns out that lanthanide metallocenes can readily adjust the length of their stems, or bonds, making them uniquely versatile and reactive. By serendipity, the Evans group also recently achieved the reduction of dinitrogen or N2, among other small molecules that are critical in the biogeochemical cycling of nitrogen. Also known as nitrogen fixation, this process makes atmospheric N2 available in the soil for uptake by plants and animals. It has been a bit of a mystery – one of nature’s magic tricks – that apparently occurred only under the influence of bacteria, the occasional lightning strike or the Haber-Bosch process. On the technology front, one of the reduced dinitrogen compounds, N23-, can couple dysprosium ions in a single molecule magnet with record high blocking temperature, which suggests potential application in magnet miniaturization.

 

When asked about communicating the implications of his work to a non-scientific audience, Evans emphasized the importance of using the right vocabulary. He himself had never even used the term “rare earth” until recently. But it has been Evans’ experience that, “There is not so much a communication gap as a deficiency in contact. The industry session at the RERC was a good start. A focused meeting on the needs of the rare earth industry that academics could help with might be useful.”

 

Keith Delaney, executive director of the Rare Earth Industry and Trade Association (REITA)

 

Plenary speaker and executive director of REITA, Keith Delaney, offered a history of the rare earth industry followed by an action-oriented plan to ensure a bright future for the industry and its stakeholders. According to Delaney, the time is now for improvement in unit operations throughout rare earth technology supply chains. Yield improvements in milling, extraction, separation and refining and the rest of the downstream process is key to minimizing cost and sustaining global rare earth resources. Asserting that industry is eager for collaborations, he also described several areas “ripe for global collaboration”

 

  1. Rebuilding our intellectual infrastructure
  2. Finding substitutes for dysprosium or engineering magnets that use less
  3. Reducing waste
  4. Improving efficiencies in both processing and manufacturing
  5. Continuing fundamental research on rare earths and their chemical and physical properties

 

Of course, open collaboration among industry can be a sticking point in many cases. Delaney called for transparency and candor by OEMs when conveying forecasted demand for their requirements. Comprehensive understanding of potential changes in the supply chain and the capacity to diversify accordingly were also addressed.

 

John Burba, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Molycorp, Inc., outlined some of Molycorp’s thinking on environmental protection, including the prospect of using HCl and NaOH as sole process reagents and building a chlor-alkalai plant to recycle waste NaCl into other useful reagents. Molycorp is also recruiting talent and funding research at schools like the Colorado School of Mines and Worchester Polytechnic Institute. This gives future rare earth experts a head start on solving imminent issues in the industry such as efficient separation processes, wastewater and tailings disposal and recycling.

 

Iowa State University, arguably the birthplace of lanthanide research in the U.S., is expected to announce the establishment of a new faculty position on the science, engineering and technology of rare earth metals within the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE). Karl Gschneider Jr., Anson Marston Distinguished Professor of MSE, whose research has included magnetic refrigeration, alloys and the metallurgy of rare earths, was instrumental in creating the position. Along with Richard LeSar and Vitalij Pecharsky, Gschneider should be contacted by qualified candidates.

 

Karl Gschneidner, Jr. of Iowa State University, 1991 Spedding award recipient and member of the National Academy of Engineering

 

Ana de Bettencourt-Dias conducts research in inorganic and materials chemistry at the University of Nevada Reno, specializing in the luminescence of lanthanide ions. With particular applications to bioimaging and sensing, her group’s recent work has revealed pyridine-bis(oxazoline) as a versatile family of ligands or “antennae” that, when coordinated with rare earth complexes, achieve distinctive emission of visible light. This year, she served as RERC Program Chair along with Conference Chair John Sarrao of Los Alamos National Laboratory. When asked how her expertise may dovetail with that at the MacKay School of Mines at UNR, de Bettencourt-Dias suggested that her course in lanthanide and actinide chemistry be offered, perhaps even remotely, to students across disciplines.

 

Ana de Bettencourt-Dias of the University of Nevada Reno served as Program Chair for this year’s conference.

 

Lynda Soderholm, senior chemist at Argonne National Lab, conducts research at the  Advanced Photon Source on the aqueous reactivity and transport of lanthanides and actinides in natural systems.  Using high-energy x-ray scattering (HEXS) in combination with solvent extraction experiments, she can probe the chemical form, or species, that are present in solution. This type of work is essential to the development of better technology in waste management and separations, yet some projects still fall into the dreaded “Valley of Death” – where great ideas go to die, unfunded, because they are neither pure science nor quite ready to be patented and commercialized. US Department of Energy’s Mary Neu, formerly of Los Alamos National Lab, indicated that the most pressing issue for environmental remediation remains the clean up of our nuclear weapons legacy.

 

In the realm of the powerfully small, Vanderbilt’s James Dickerson has been observing exciting magnetic behavior from his lead europium sulfide and europium telluride nanocrystals. The crystals, some on the order of 2 nm in diameter, are applicable in dilute magnetic semiconductors because they can form a completely miscible alloy system with tunable energy band gaps over a wide range. Dickerson has conducted this type of research at Vanderbilt for seven years with eight undergraduate, graduate and post doctoral researchers under his wing. In his lab, students learn not only how to synthesize and characterize these tiny crystals, but also to organize them into a functional monolayer using electrophoretic deposition, or EPD. With this skill set and a willingness to apply it to novel problems, his materials science and physics graduates are well trained for many positions within the rare earth industry.

 

So how can industry capitalize on this talent? How might we improve the collaboration between the highly cited rare earth chemist and the highly qualified operations manager? Is it possible for industry to take a cue from the academics that rely on each other to improve their science?  Time will tell, but the state of rare earth science and research suggests that we may already possess the capacity to solve some of industry’s most pressing problems.

 

Return to Mountain Pass!

June 17th, 2011

By Clint Cox

On June 1, Molycorp held a tour for about 100 delegates from the recent Metal Pages’ Metals for Energy and Environment Conference held in Las Vegas. We all met just before lunch at the Green Valley Ranch hotel entrance, loaded up into 4 medium sized luxury-liner buses, and began eating our Panera box lunches  on the way to Mountain Pass — Yeeeee haw!

We were scheduled to have a safety briefing before touring the facilities, but it was really more of a Molycorp presentation with an extensive Q&A session.  Frankly, I was surprised that they let the Q&A go so long — the questions were getting pretty exciting towards the end. I learned a lot during this session, and I was impressed that Molycorp spent as much time answering some tough questions as they did:

 

They addressed their estimate of China’s cost of production being $5.58/kg — saying that it was the best numbers that they could get for an apples to apples comparison out of China. For reference, Molycorp is claiming a cost of $2.77/kg with Lynas at $10.11/kg. In the end, we will have to wait until both are in production to know the real numbers.

Molycorp answered a question about the viability of XSORBX in the marketplace when cerium was above $11/kg.

They said that Silmet (a recent Molycorp purchase in Estonia) was still receiving feedstock for their operations from Russia, but that Molycorp would be providing lanthanum precipitate concentrate, some residue, and bastnaesite concentrate.

They would not answer questions regarding their flowsheet (completely understandable).

The one question that was not answered, but that I  have now heard asked now at several venues, is “how much dysprosium and terbium will be produced?”

 

After the Q&A, I had a look at some of the displays in the presentation room. The first was of bastnaesite ore:

The also had a display of oxides and bastnaesite concentrate (lots of pretty colors!):

Soon it was time to throw on some hardhats, load up the buses and head out to the site!

The first stop was at the viewing platform for the pit.  They have changed the platform location since the last time I was there — it used to be on the other side of the pit (at left in the picture), but the view is still good:

We stayed there for about 10-15 minutes and had more Q&A with our Molycorp representatives as we enjoyed the breeze from atop the mighty Mountain Pass! We were told that the feedstock runs about 8-10% REO, but that areas of up to 35% REO exist. Here’s a view of the bus and our nice, shiny blue hardhats:

The next stop was a viewing platform (in the form of a flatbed truck with railings) of the freshly made processing pad:

The pad is a total of 36 acres, and will have separations, CHP (their new power plant), salt recovery and other ancillary facilities.  We were told that they will have a total of 250 mixer/settlers  onsite for their separations operation — with 180 of these being dedicated solely to didymium. Here is a picture of the building that will be refurbished to house the didymium operation:

All-in-all, it was a very worthwhile trip with plenty of Molycorp staff available for questions, and plenty of evidence that they are diligently spending their shareholders money and making some progress. I wish that we had gotten a closer view of the facilities and a walk-through of some active operations, but a hundred people milling around bumping stuff doesn’t sound like a great idea!

Special thanks to Molycorp, their staff, and Nigel Tunna and the Metal-Pages staff. It was a wonderful trip!

 

New Update Coming on Friday June 17!

June 14th, 2011

The return to Mountain Pass!

 

Upcoming Rare Earth Conferences

March 9th, 2011

By Clint Cox

 

A number of people have requested a list of upcoming conferences in the rare earth industry.  The list below is by no means exhaustive:

 

Coming soon:

Asian Metal Rare Earth Summit, Pittsburgh March 14-15

 

For excellent coverage of rare earths and the US government:

TREM 11, Washington DC, March 22-23

 

For Minor Metals and Rare Earths:

MMTA’s International Minor Metals Conference, Philadelphia May 4-6

 

For fantastic papers on REE Research:

26th Rare Earth Research Conference, Santa Fe June 19-23

 

 

If you hear of other conferences directly involving rare earths, please let me know!

2011 Well Underway, but What Lies ahead?

March 1st, 2011

By Clint Cox

Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in posting this year.  Regardless of my tardiness, I’d still like to give an outlook for 2011:

2011 should be a pivotal year in many respects. Let’s start with China, the key player…

 

China Consolidation

First of all, the Chinese are consolidating their industry, and this may mean considerable changes for the entire industry.  There might be 4-6 real winners within China, and depending on how this plays out, it will affect how the industry plays out both within and outside China. Will production be reduced? Become more efficient?  Become more environmentally friendly?  This is something to watch.

 

Prices Inside China vs. Outside China

There is a HUGE difference right now between prices inside and outside China.  For instance, according to Metal Pages, cerium (Ce) oxide is priced at about $6/kg (converting from RMB) inside China versus about $90/kg outside. That’s a big difference.  Many junior companies are really excited about this price differential, but keep in mind that it is a function of the export quota, and this can change very quickly.

 

World Economy

Anything can happen in the economy, and the world economic picture is looking fairly unstable.  There is mounting debt worldwide, and rising commodity prices in the face of large unemployment.  If the economy fails, the REE sector will suffer along with it.

 

Government Involvement

The Japanese government has already stepped in and decided to spread some money around the rare earth sector this year.  Will Europe follow? The US?  Other countries?

 

Substitution and Efficiency

The Japanese have stated that they want to substantially decrease their reliance on rare earths by trying to substitute or lessen their usage in applications.  This is a great idea, but there is always some amount of sacrifice — be it price, weight, or performance characteristics.  Also, I have heard it said from R&D folks that it is difficult to “schedule innovation”.   There will be some increased efficiency in the usage of REEs, but they will not be replaced this year.  In fact, there may be some new applications that will absorb extra supply.

 

Unknown Developments

This is always the big humdinger!  Last year it was the dramatic cuts by the Chinese — no one that I know saw the severity of this coming. This year it could be new projects coming on stream that were unexpected (or announcements of new projects).  It could also be further cuts or further dramatic price increases.  Will the Chinese change the rules again?  It will be a HUGE year, I think.

 

Thanks!

 

2010 Outlook: How Did We Do?

December 27th, 2010

By Clint Cox

Below is my commentary on the market from our posting in January of 2010.  Following each section I give my assessment (in burgundy) of how our outlook seems to be holding up with time…

Happy New Year!

This is more of an exercise in entertainment than it will be informative.  There are so many different directions the rare earth industry could go this year that it would be foolish to make formal predictions (so please consider anything I say here very informal). Enough tip-toeing, let’s dance!

I had no idea how fast the music would play this year!  My feet don’t move that fast!

The Economy

I stated that this would be an issue last year, and I still believe that this can have a great deal of effect on the marketplace for rare earths.  If we have a repeat credit crisis or a currency crisis of any sort, the REE business may be greatly affected. It is good to look at the broader economy as the backdrop for the REEs.

The overall economy recovered (somewhat), and the REEs did the same.  The 2009 dip in the REE market now seems a distant memory…

China Export Quotas

I don’t think China will restrict export of any REEs, but I have been wrong many times before. The quotas may stay flat or go down a bit, but I think the fear of China cutting off the West is not going to happen right now.

Whoa!  China didn’t cease export of any rare earth element, but the quotas plummeted in the second half of the year, and the fear of China cutting off the West has taken a firm grip.  I botched this one!

April 1, 2010 Report

Congress will get its first formal look at the rare earths industry as they have ordered a report studying the REEs due on April Fools Day. I don’t know what the impact of this study will be (or if it will be public information). Depending on its content, and what is done with it, it may have substantial repercussions — at least in North America.

There have been substantial repercussions felt from various government reports that have been released.  The CRS, USGS, and DOE have all released reports of impact.  Legislation is underway, and it will be interesting to see where DC fits into the bigger REE puzzle.

Nonstop Rare Earth Conferences

The media attention placed on rare earths in 2009 sparked tremendous interest, and now there are a number of groups providing new, improved, or watered down ways to learn about REEs! There are some very legitimate conferences that have been around for some years, and there will be some worthwhile newcomers.  However, there is a lot of talk about being “the” rare earth conference. Here is a partial list of currently scheduled conferences (more conferences will be scheduled throughout the year):

SAIMM “Thorium & Rare Earths”, Cape Town

DMTC “2nd Annual Strategic Materials Conference”, Cleveland

SME, Phoenix (both strategic metals and rare earth sessions)

TREM “Technology & Rare Earth Metals for National Security and Clean Energy”, Washington DC

Objective Capital’s “Rare Earths, Specialty & Minor Metals Investment Summit”, London

ICRE 2010 “6th International Conference on Rare Earth Development and Application”, Beijing

Metal Events “6th International Rare Earths Conference”, Hong Kong

This list does not include conferences such as Indaba or the PDAC which will have dedicated rare earths talks or programs.

The above list represents just a trickle of rare earth conferences washing into the marketplace!  Some are certainly much better than others, and the industry is getting weary, but it is also exciting and offers plenty of opportunity for the industry to get together face to face.

The Media

Last year’s MIIT draft out of China was the catalyst that captured the media’s attention.  Since then, there has been substantial coverage of REEs in green technologies and other important applications. This is a true wildcard — I believe that the media coverage will continue, but I also believe that most stories will be ill-informed.  There has been some excellent, responsible coverage, but I anticipate more sensational journalism grabbing headlines regarding the rare earths.

Shah-baaaaam!  Media attention has truly exploded, and has become much more than a wildcard — it has become a main player.  People are reading about rare earths all over the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, the Economist, and the Financial Times! It has become front page news all over!  And yes, many of the stories are ill-informed, but there are some excellent journalists out there trying to get the story right.

The Development of Sichuan

Most of the talk surrounding the LREE in China revolves around Bayan Obo and Baotou.  However, the Jiangxi Copper Group has made it clear that they will be developing the Maoniuping deposit in Sichuan (also referred to sometimes as “Mianning”). Jiangxi Copper will be spending hundreds of millions of dollars to develop the site, and it is unclear what impact it will have on the market. This should be followed closely, as they have a substantial deposit of rare earths.

Not much has been said here.  Jiangxi Copper is definitely a player here, and there will probably be some serious production, but there hasn’t been a lot of news directly regarding this.

New Projects

When I began covering this industry there were only a handful of junior exploration companies that would claim that they had anything to do with rare earth.  Now there are well over 100.  There will be new projects coming to light in 2010, and we look forward to some surprises.

In March 2010 alone (mostly coinciding with the PDAC) we added over 50 projects to our database!  Yikes!  The number of new projects is staggering, but was predicted by those who know the junior exploration market much better than myself.

IPO Fest?

There may be several players coming into the public market in 2010 — some of these may be significant. Let’s watch and see if this pans out, and how much money they raise.

IPO Fever!  A number of companies had IPOs, but the splashiest by far was Molycorp.  They timed the market almost perfectly (going public around the time of the Chinese quota cut), and have risen steadily throughout 2010.  Several others went public as well, with quite a few cued up for 2011.

The Unknown

Ah! Saved the best for last. There will be unknown events in 2010 that will undoubtedly rock the rare earth market. We will watch with eyes wide open, but we will certainly be surprised like everyone else!

Big quota reduction.  Questions about exports.  Media explosion.  There were plenty of surprises!!!

More to come in early January with our Outlook 2011!

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