Does China Stop Rare Earths Exports to the US? (71)
Does China Stop Rare Earths Exports to the US?
US President Donald Trump’s economic sanctions against China have been ongoing for months. The conflict continues to escalate with recent measures against Chinese technology group Huawei. According to observers, a massive countermeasure by China is now becoming increasingly likely: An export halt for rare earths to the US. The US would not be able to replace such a deficit in the short to medium term. Although there are quite relevant deposits outside China, these are not yet economic and would have to be developed first. This usually takes several years. The same applies to the elaborate processing of the ores.
Such a boycott would cause severe distress to numerous American industries. The production of American military technology would also be affected, thus also giving the situation a security and political aspect. Unsurprisingly, rare earths prices have already picked up. However, part of the price increase is likely to be due to the border closure between China and Myanmar (we reported in newsletter No. 70).
Source: boerse-am-sonntag.de (german)
Sunny Skies for Photovoltaics
Owners of indium and tellurium can look forward to growing demands for their material assets. Sonnenseite.com declared only in mid-May: “Solar energy is also on the rise from a global point of view.” (our translation) This conclusion is made in the Global Market Outlook for Solar Power 2019 report, which aims to increase the expansion of photovoltaics by 80 by 2023.
The trend is due, among other things, to the low cost factor, which makes photovoltaics extremely attractive, especially for the achievement of EU directives: “In both Europe and the EU, we anticipate very stronggrowth for 2019. As the EU’s national binding 2020 renewables targets are rapidly getting closer, and many member states still have some way to go (according to Eurostat, 17 of the EU-28 had not reached their targets by end of 2017), low-cost and easily deployable solar is often seen as a key means to meet the finishing line in time.” (p. 18)
Sources: sonnenseite.com (german) & solarpowereurope.org
Tesla Increasingly Relies on Rare Earths Magnets
Back in 2018, Tesla had replaced the induction engine with a permanent magnet engine in the mid-range “Model 3” car. Now the company also wants to replace one of the two induction engines with a permanent magnet engine for the upper-class “S” and “X” models. The innovation, together with further optimizations, ensures up to ten percent more reach. The engines use extremely powerful neodymium-iron-boron magnets. Although only small amounts of neodymium are required per piece (for example, compared to wind turbines, which require around one tonne of neodymium each). Still, demand for neodymium-oxide is likely to increase anytime soon as a result of the developments at Tesla.
Indium and Gallium in Demand for OLED TVs
Corning Incorporated (manufacturer of the well-known gorilla glass for smart phone displays by, for example, Apple and Samsung) has announced a new powerful glass substrate for TV screens: Astra Glass. Unlike current screens for which silicon is processed, this new substrate relies on IGZO-TFT (indium gallium zinc oxides) technology. This way it is up to the demands of state-of-the-art OLED TVs. Indium and gallium thus become an important part of this promising market. In an interview on Digitimes.com, Daniel Tseng, president of Corning Display Technologies Taiwan, predicts five percent growth for the display industry through 2022. “The growth of screen sizes,” says Tseng, “will drive the expansion of the display glass market. The average display size of TVs is expected to increase by 1.5 inches a year from 2018-2022 reaching, 51 inches in 2020 from 45 inches in 2018. “
Sources: heise.de (german) & tvj.co.in
First rare earths detected on an exoplanet
The exoplanet Kelt-9b is located 650 light years from Earth in the starry image Swan. Exoplanets are planets that are not in the influence of the sun’s gravity. At Kelt-9b, there is a temperature of 4,000 degrees, so it is also known as “hot Jupiter.” All chemical elements evaporate there and rise into the planet’s atmosphere – metals, too. With a sensitive spectrograph on a large telescope, Swiss scientists have now been able to detect rare earths, more precisely scandium and yttrium, in this atmosphere for the first time. Of course, the mining of these metals it is not to be thought of in the foreseeable future, since the costs would far exceed the proceeds of the sale. However, scientists see a good chance that the same technique will find so-called biosignatures, i.e. signs of life, on an exoplanet.
Source: forschung-und-wissen.de (german)