Companies and industrialized nations are looking for ways to reduce their dependence on China for access to rare earths.
It was fewer than three years ago that many in the rare earth supply chain were rattled by exorbitant price hikes and increasingly restricted access to these key inputs to a host of high-tech products from hybrid cars, catalysts and defense technologies to lighting, glass polishing, wind turbines and more.
The culprit had a name -- China -- which dominates production of rare earths and whose export restrictions drove the price spike.
In response to China's actions, discussions ramped up about finding new sources of the 17 elements typically identified as rare earths -- 15 lanthanides plus scandium and yttrium—which exhibit unique magnetic, luminescent and electrochemical properties. These properties help in the development of technologies with reduced weight, greater efficiency and other improvements.
More on rare earths on IndustryWeek.