Rare Earths - USGS Mineral Resources Program

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RARE EARTHS—2002 61.1
RARE EARTHS
By James B. Hedrick
Domestic survey data and tables were prepared by Heather A. Geissler and James Peang, statistical assistants, the world
production tables were prepared by Glenn Wallace, international data coordinator, and the figure was designed by Robert M.
Callaghan, geographic information specialist.
1982, p. 46). Scandium is a soft, lightweight, silvery-white metal,
similar in appearance and weight to aluminum. It is represented
by the chemical symbol Sc and has one naturally occurring
isotope. Although its occurrence in crustal rocks is greater than
lead, mercury, and the precious metals, scandium rarely occurs in
concentrated quantities because it does not selectively combine
with the common ore-forming anions.
Yttrium, whose atomic number is 39, is chemically similar to
the lanthanides and often occurs in the same minerals as a result of
its similar ionic radius. It is represented by the chemical symbol
Y and has one naturally occurring isotope. Yttrium’s average
concentration in the Earth’s crust is 33 ppm and is the second most
abundant rare earth in the Earth’s crust. Yttrium is a bright silvery
metal that is soft and malleable, similar in density to titanium.
The elemental forms of rare earths are iron gray to silvery
lustrous metals that are typically soft, malleable, ductile, and
usually reactive, especially at elevated temperatures or when
finely divided. Melting points range from 798° C for cerium to
1,663° C for lutetium. The unique properties of rare earths are
used in a wide variety of applications. The principal economic
rare-earth ores are the minerals bastnäsite, loparite, and
monazite and lateritic ion-adsorption clays (table 2).
The rare earths were discovered in 1787 by Swedish Army
Lieutenant Karl Axel Arrhenius when he collected the black
mineral ytterbite (later renamed gadolinite) from a feldspar and
quartz mine near the village of Ytterby, Sweden (Weeks and
Leicester, 1968, p. 667). Because they have similar chemical
structures, the rare-earth elements proved difficult to separate.
It was not until 1794 that the first element, an impure yttrium
oxide, was isolated from the mineral ytterbite by Finnish
chemist Johann Gadolin (Weeks and Leicester, 1968, p. 671).
Rare earths were first produced commercially in the 1880s
in Sweden and Norway from the rare-earth mineral monazite.
Production in Scandinavia was prompted by the invention in
1884 of the Welsbach incandescent lamp mantle, which initially
required the oxides of lanthanum, yttrium, and zirconium, with
later improvements requiring only the oxides of thorium and
cerium. The mantles also used small amounts of neodymium and
praseodymium oxides as an indelible brand name label. The first
rare-earth production in the United States was recorded in 1893 in
North Carolina; however, a small tonnage of monazite was reportedly
mined as early as 1887. South Carolina began production of
monazite in 1903. Foreign production of monazite occurred in Brazil
as early as 1887, and India began recovery of the ore in 1911.
Production
In 2002, one mining operation in California accounted for
all domestic bastnäsite concentrate production. Molycorp,
In 2002, rare-earth production was primarily from the rare-earth
mineral bastnäsite. Rare-earth ores were mainly supplied by
China, with lesser amounts mined in Brazil, India, Russia, and the
United States. Domestic demand decreased for rare earths used in
petroleum fluid cracking catalysts and in rare-earth phosphors for
television, x-ray intensifying, and fluorescent and incandescent
lighting. Consumption was estimated to have decreased as
imports of rare-earth alloys, compounds, and metals declined.
Production of bastnäsite continued in the United States with
subsequent production of cerium concentrates on a limited scale.
U.S. imports of cerium compounds decreased (table 1).
Yttrium demand decreased by about 29.4% in 2002 compared
with that of 2001, according to data from the PIERS database
of The Commonwealth Business Media, Inc. Yttrium was
used primarily in lamp and cathode-ray tube phosphors; lesser
amounts were used in structural ceramics and oxygen sensors.
The domestic use of scandium increased slightly in 2002.
Overall consumption of the commodity remained small.
Commercial demand decreased as the domestic economy
slowed. Demand was primarily for aluminum alloys used in
baseball and softball bats. Scandium alloys, compounds, and
metal were used in analytical standards, metallurgical research,
and sporting goods equipment. Minor amounts of high-purity
scandium were used in semiconductors and specialty lighting.
The rare earths are a moderately abundant group of 17
elements comprising the 15 lanthanides, scandium, and yttrium.
The elements range in crustal abundance from cerium, the
25th most abundant element of the 78 common elements in
the Earth’s crust at 60 parts per million (ppm), to thulium
and lutetium, the least abundant rare-earth elements at about
0.5 ppm (Mason and Moore, 1982, p. 46). In rock-forming
minerals, rare earths typically occur in compounds as trivalent
cations in carbonates, oxides, phosphates, and silicates.
The lanthanides comprise a group of 15 elements with atomic
numbers 57 through 71 that include the following, in order of
atomic number: lanthanum (La), cerium (Ce), praseodymium
(Pr), neodymium (Nd), promethium (Pm), samarium (Sm),
europium (Eu), gadolinium (Gd), terbium (Tb), dysprosium (Dy),
holmium (Ho), erbium (Er), thulium (Tm), ytterbium (Yb), and
lutetium (Lu). Cerium, which is more abundant than copper
(whose average concentration in the Earth’s crust is 50 ppm), is
the most abundant member of the group at 60 ppm, followed, in
decreasing order, by yttrium at 33 ppm, lanthanum at 30 ppm, and
neodymium at 28 ppm. Thulium and lutetium, the least abundant
of the lanthanides at 0.5 ppm, occur in the Earth’s crust in higher
concentrations than antimony, bismuth, cadmium, and thallium.
Scandium, whose atomic number is 21, is the lightest rare-earth
element. It is the 31st most abundant element in the Earth’s crust,
with an average crustal abundance of 22 ppm (Mason and Moore,
61.2 U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY MINERALS YEARBOOK—2002
Inc. (a wholly owned subsidiary of Unocal Corporation)
processed previously mined bastnäsite-bearing ore at its open
pit operations at Mountain Pass, CA. Production was estimated
to be 5,000 metric tons (t) of rare-earth oxides (REOs) of
bastnäsite. In 2002, the minerals sector of Unocal reported sales
revenue of $31 million (unaudited), an increase of $3 million
from the $28 million (unaudited) in 2001 (Unocal Corporation,
2003, p. 139). Unocal’s minerals sector included minerals
other than the lanthanides (i.e. carbon, molybdenum, and
niobium) and is undifferentiated in Unocal’s report. Although
the company was not actively mining, its mill was operated, and
several lanthanide products were packaged, sold, and shipped.
Substantial stocks of lanthanide concentrates and intermediate
and refined compounds were available.
Based on economic conditions, Molycorp was prepared to
restart its rare-earth refining operations. Ongoing programs to
further develop the mine include filing an environmental impact
report, the building of evaporation ponds, decommissioning of
an old tailings pond, and developing a plan for a new tailings
pond with an environmentally aware reduced water use fill
technology.
Lanthanide products available in 2002 from Molycorp were
bastnäsite concentrate, cerium nitrate, lanthanum chloride,
lanthanum hydrate, lanthanum-rich nitrate, and the oxides
of cerium, erbium, europium, gadolinium, praseodymium,
samarium, and yttrium.
Molycorp has continued to decommission and decontaminate
its closed rare-earth processing facilities at Washington and
York, PA. Limited amounts of naturally occurring low-level
radioactive material (thorium) were planned for removal to
approved disposal sites. Provisions for additional disposal costs
were recalculated at yearend 2002 and were $15 million lower
than the costs estimated at yearend 2001 (costs include non-rareearth locations, such as the Guadalupe oilfield in California)
(Unocal Corporation, 2003, p. 50).
Two companies processed intermediate rare-earth compounds
to lanthanides in 2002. Molycorp, which ceased production
of refined compounds at its separation plant at Mountain Pass
in 1998, continued to produce bastnäsite concentrate at its
mill in 2002 and produced several intermediate compounds.
Grace Davison (a subsidiary of W.R. Grace & Co.) processed
intermediate rare-earth compounds to produce cerium- and
lanthanum-rich compounds used in making fluid cracking
catalysts for the petroleum industry.
Santoku America, Inc. (a subsidiary of Santoku Corporation
of Japan) produced rare-earth magnet and rechargeable battery
alloys at its operations in Tolleson, AZ. Santoku America
produced both types of high-strength permanent magnets,
namely neodymium-iron-boron (NIB) and samarium-cobalt.
For the rechargeable battery industry, Santoku produced nickelmetal hydride (Ni-MH) alloys that incorporate specialty rareearth mischmetals. The plant also produced a full range of
high-purity rare-earth metals in cast and distilled forms, foils,
and sputtering targets, including scandium and yttrium. Santoku
Corporation (33%) continued its joint venture Anan Kasei Ltd.
with Rhodia Electronics and Catalysis, Inc. (67%) in producing
fuel additive emission-reduction catalyst, phosphors, polishing
compounds, rare-earth-based nontoxic colorants and coatings
for plastics, and three way catalytic converter catalysts.
Rhodia’s operations produced finished rare-earth products
from imported materials at its plant in Freeport, TX. Rhodia
continued to operate its large-scale rare-earth separation plant
in La Rochelle, France, and had additional capacity at its joint
venture in Kobe, Japan. These plants provide Rhodia’s U.S.
operations with a majority of their rare-earth supply.
In 2002, Grace Davison announced the development of
two new fluid cracking catalysts (FCCs), released under the
trade names AdVanta™ and SATURN™. W.R. Grace and
ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co. announced an
agreement to license patents held by ExxonMobil to Grace
Davison to manufacture and market the rare-earth-containing
AdVanta™ FCC (W.R. Grace & Co., 2002a). The catalyst
provides superior stability and yields in the catalytic cracking
process compared to other FCCs and has been in use at several
ExxonMobil Corporation refineries worldwide
The SATURN™ catalyst was developed by Grace Davison as
a sulfur reduction catalyst. In its first commercial application,
it achieved a 50% to 60% reduction in sulfur at the Montana
Refining Company, Great Falls, MT. The reduction in sulfur
will help certain refineries meet the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency’s Tier 2 reduction in sulfur emissions from
gasoline. The Tier 2 plan was legislated to control and reduce
air pollution from passenger cars and light trucks. The rareearth-containing SATURN™ catalyst is reportedly costly to
produce; however, its use will likely offset alternative refinery
capital expenditures that would have been needed to meet the
Tier 2 requirements (W.R. Grace & Co., 2002b).
Essentially all purified yttrium was derived from imported
compounds. The minor amounts of yttrium contained in
bastnäsite from Mountain Pass, CA, are not recovered as a
separate product.
Two scandium processors operated in 2002. High-purity
products were available in various grades, with scandium
oxide produced at up to 99.999% purity. Boulder Scientific
Co. processed scandium at its Mead, CO, operations. It refined
scandium primarily from imported oxides to produce highpurity scandium compounds, including carbide, chloride,
diboride, fluoride, hydride, nitride, oxalate, and tungstate.
Scandium also was purified and processed from imported
oxides at Aldrich-APL, LLC in Urbana, IL, to produce highpurity scandium compounds, including anhydrous and hydrous
chloride, fluoride, iodide, and oxide. The company also
produced high-purity scandium metal.
The principal domestic producers of NIB magnet alloys
were Magnequench International, Inc. (MQ), Anderson, IN,
and Santuko America, Inc., Tolleson, AZ. The leading U.S.
producers of rare-earth magnets were Crumax Magnetics, Inc.,
Elizabethtown, KY; Electron Energy Corporation, Landisville,
PA; Magnequench UG (previously Ugimag, Inc.), Valparaiso, IN;
MQ, Anderson, IN; and Magnetic Materials Division of Hitachi
Metal America, Ltd., Edmore, MI, and China Grove, NC.
Demand increased for rare earths used in Ni-MH batteries.
The rechargeable batteries are used in cellular phones, portable
computers, PDAs, camcorders, and other portable devices.
Japan, the leading producer, shipped 654 million units in 2001, a
64% decrease compared with 2000 (Roskill’s Letter from Japan,
2002). Ni-MH batteries were the leading rechargeable battery
product, followed by nickel-cadmium and lithium-ion types.
RARE EARTHS—2002 61.3
Shipments from Japan of nickel-cadmium and lithium-ion
batteries also decreased.
Consumption
Statistics on domestic rare-earth consumption were developed
by surveying various processors and manufacturers, evaluating
import and export data, and analyzing U.S. Government
stockpile shipments. Domestic apparent consumption of rare
earths decreased in 2002 compared with that of 2001. Domestic
consumption of rare-earth metals and alloys also decreased
in 2002, especially for those used in permanent magnets and
rechargeable batteries.
Based on information supplied to the U.S. Geological Survey
(USGS) by U.S. rare-earth refiners and selected consumers and an
analysis of import data, the approximate distribution of rare earths
by use was as follows: automotive catalytic converters, 14%; glass
polishing and ceramics, 30%; metallurgical additives and alloys,
19%; permanent magnets, 3%; petroleum refining catalysts, 28%;
rare-earth phosphors for lighting, televisions, computer monitors,
radar, and x-ray intensifying film, 3%; and miscellaneous, 3%.
In 2002, domestic yttrium consumption was estimated to have
decreased to 334 t from 473 t in 2001. Yttrium information
was based on data retrieved from the PIERS database. Yttrium
compounds and metal were imported from several sources
in 2002. Yttrium was imported from China (69.9%), Japan
(18.6%), Germany (5.4%), the Netherlands (4.7%), and the
United Kingdom (1.4%). The estimated use of yttrium, based on
imports, was primarily in lamp and cathode-ray tube phosphors
(78.7%), lasers and electronics (10.3%), ceramics and oxygen
sensors (10.0%), alloys (0.4%), and miscellaneous (0.6%).
Stocks
All U.S. Government stocks of rare earths in the National
Defense Stockpile (NDS) were shipped in 1998. Periodic
assessments of the national defense material requirements may
necessitate the inclusion of rare earths in the NDS at a future date.
Prices
The prices of rare-earth materials either increased or were
essentially unchanged in 2002 compared with 2001. The
following estimates of prices were based on trade data from
various sources or were quoted by rare-earth producers. All
rare-earth prices remained nominal and subject to change
without notice. The competitive pricing policies in effect in
the industry caused most rare-earth products to be quoted on a
daily basis. The average price of imported rare-earth chloride
was $1.43 per kilogram in 2002, a decrease from $1.61 per
kilogram in 2001. In 2002, imported rare-earth metal prices
averaged $8.25 per kilogram, a decrease from $12.17 per
kilogram in 2001. Mischmetals and specialty mischmetals
composed most of the rare-earth metal imports. (Mischmetal
is a natural mixture of rare-earth metals typically produced by
metallothermic reduction of a mixed rare-earth chloride.) The
price range of basic mischmetal was from $5.00 to $6.00 per
kilogram (in metric ton quantities) at yearend 2002, unchanged
from the previous year (High Tech Materials, 2002§1). The
average price for imported cerium compounds, excluding
cerium chloride, increased to $5.03 per kilogram in 2002 from
$4.92 per kilogram in 2001. The primary cerium compound
imported was cerium carbonate.
The 2002 nominal price for bastnäsite concentrate was $3.64
to $4.08 per kilogram of lanthanide oxide contained ($1.65 to
$1.85 per pound of lanthanide oxide contained). The price of
monazite concentrate, typically sold with a minimum 55% rareearth oxide, including thorium oxide content, free-on-board
(f.o.b.) as quoted in U.S. dollars and based on the last U.S.
import data, was unchanged at $400.00 per metric ton. In 2002,
no monazite was imported into the United States. Prices for
monazite remained depressed because the principal international
rare-earth processors continued to process only thorium-free
feed materials.
The nominal price for basic neodymium metal, published
at yearend by High Tech Materials for metric ton quantities,
decreased to the range of $8 to $20 per kilogram ($3.63 to $9.07
per pound), f.o.b. shipping point. Most neodymium-iron-boron
alloy was sold with additions of cobalt (typically 4% to 6%) or
dysprosium (no more than 4%). The cost of the additions was
based on pricing before shipping and alloying fees; with the
average cobalt price decreasing to $15.23 per kilogram ($6.91
per pound) in 2002, the cost would be about $0.15 per kilogram
($0.07 per pound) for each percentage point addition.
Rhodia quoted rare-earth prices, per kilogram, net 30 days,
f.o.b. New Brunswick, NJ, or duty paid at point of entry, in
effect at yearend 2002, are listed in table 3. No published
prices for scandium oxide in kilogram quantities were available.
Yearend 2002 nominal prices for scandium oxide were compiled
from information provided by several domestic suppliers and
processors. Prices were mixed from those of the previous year
for most grades and were listed as follows: 99% purity, $700
per kilogram; 99.9% purity, $2,000 per kilogram; 99.99% purity,
$2,500 per kilogram; and 99.999% purity, $3,200 per kilogram.
Scandium metal prices for 2002 were unchanged from those
of 2001 and were as follows: 99.9% REO purity, metal pieces,
distilled dendritic, ampouled under argon, $279 per 2 grams;
99.9% REO purity, metal pieces, ampouled under argon, $198
per gram; 99.9% purity, metal ingot, ampouled under argon,
$218 per gram; and 99.9% REO purity foil, 0.025-millimeter
(mm) thick, ampouled under argon, 25 mm by 25 mm, $111 per
item (Alfa Aesar, 2001, p. 1284).
Scandium compound prices were as follows: scandium acetate
hydrate 99.9% purity, $66.30 per gram; scandium chloride
hydrate 99.99% purity, $85.00 per gram; scandium nitrate
hydrate 99.9% purity, $73.90 per gram; and scandium sulfate
pentahydrate 99.9% purity, $65.80 per gram. Prices for standard
solutions for calibrating analytical equipment were $25.70 per
100 milliliters of scandium atomic absorption standard solution
and $420.30 per 100 milliliters of scandium plasma standard
solution (Aldrich Chemical Co., 2002, p. 1639-1641).
Prices for kilogram quantities of scandium metal in ingot form
have historically averaged about twice the cost of the oxide,
and higher purity distilled scandium metal prices have averaged
about five times that cost.
1References that include a section mark (§) are found in the Internet
References Cited section.
61.4 U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY MINERALS YEARBOOK—2002
Foreign Trade
U.S. imports and exports of rare earths declined in 2002
compared with those of 2001. Data in this section are based
on gross weight, while data in the tables may be converted to
equivalent rare-earth oxide, as noted. U.S. exports totaled 8,350
t valued at $49.8 million, a 9.9% decrease in quantity and a
value that was essentially the same when compared with those
of 2001 (table 4). Imports totaled 19,800 t gross weight valued
at $93.5 million, a 26.8% decrease in quantity and a 33.1%
decrease in value compared with those of 2001 (table 5).
In 2002, U.S. exports of rare earths decreased in all trade
categories except rare-earth metals and ferrocerium and other
pyrophoric alloys, which increased. Principal destinations in
2002, in descending order, were Germany, Canada, Japan, and the
Republic of Korea. The United States exported 1,090 t of rareearth metals valued at $5.9 million, a 47% increase in quantity
compared with that of 2001. Principal destinations, in descending
order of quantity, were Brazil and Japan, with smaller amounts to
China, the United Kingdom, and Singapore. Exports of cerium
compounds, primarily for glass polishing and automotive catalytic
converters, decreased by 33.4% to 2,740 t valued at $13.9 million.
Major destinations, in descending order of quantity, were the
Republic of Korea, Japan, Germany, and Malaysia.
Exports of inorganic and organic rare-earth compounds
decreased 16.2% to 1,340 t in 2002 from 1,600 t in 2001, and
the value of the shipments increased by 21.3% to $21.2 million.
Shipments, in descending order of quantity, were to Japan,
Canada, Germany, and Austria.
U.S. exports of ferrocerium and other pyrophoric alloys increased
to 3,180 t valued at $8.86 million in 2002 from 2,820 t valued at
$7.93 million in 2001. Principal destinations, in descending order
of quantity, were Canada, Germany, Japan, and Mexico.
In 2002, U.S. imports of compounds and alloys decreased for
six out of seven categories, as listed in table 5. China and France
dominated the import market, especially for mixed and individual
rare-earth compounds, followed by Japan and India (figure 1).
Imports of cerium compounds totaled 3,800 t valued at $19.1
million. The quantity of cerium compounds imported decreased
by 34% as a result of decreased demand for automotive
exhaust catalysts. China was the major supplier for the eighth
consecutive year, followed by France, Japan, and Austria.
Imports of yttrium compounds that contain between 19 and 85
weight-percent oxide equivalent (yttrium concentrate) decreased
by 43.5% to 73,300 kilograms (kg) in 2002, and the value
decreased by 10.1% to $3.87 million. China was the leading
supplier of yttrium compounds, followed by Japan and France.
Imports of individual rare-earth compounds, traditionally the
major share of rare-earth imports, decreased by 20.7% compared
with those of 2001. Rare-earth compound imports decreased to
9,670 t valued at $49.2 million. The major sources of individual
rare-earth compounds, in decreasing order, were China, France,
Estonia, and Russia. Imports of mixtures of rare-earth oxides,
other than cerium oxide, decreased by 48.9% to 1,040 t valued
at $4.5 million. The principal source of the mixed rare-earth
oxides was China, with much smaller quantities imported from
Japan, the United Kingdom, and Austria. Imports of rare-earth
metals and alloys into the United States totaled 1,210 t valued
at $9.99 million in 2002, a 2.3% increase in quantity compared
with those of 2001. The principal rare-earth metal sources, in
descending order of quantity, were China and Japan. Metal
imports were essentially unchanged from the previous year
in which they declined by 43%. In 2002, imports of rareearth chlorides decreased by 30.2% to 3,920 t valued at $5.6
million. Supplies of rare-earth chloride, in descending order
of quantity, came from China and India, with minor amounts
from France and the United Kingdom. In the United States,
rare-earth chloride was used mainly as feed material for
manufacturing fluid cracking catalysts. Imports of ferrocerium
and pyrophoric alloys decreased to 101,000 kg valued at $1.21
million. Principal sources of these alloys, in descending order
of quantity, were China and Austria.
World Review
China, France, India, and Japan were major import sources
of rare-earth chlorides, nitrates, and other concentrates and
compounds (table 5). Thorium-free intermediate compounds
as refinery feed were still in demand as a result of industrial
consumers expressing concerns with the potential liabilities of
radioactive thorium, the costs of complying with environmental
monitoring and regulations, and costs at approved waste
disposal sites. In 2002, demand for rare earths decreased in the
United States, and imports decreased by 27%.
In 2002, estimated world production of rare earths increased
to 98,200 t of REOs (table 6). Production of monazite
concentrate was estimated to be 5,700 t (table 7).
World reserves of rare earths were estimated by the USGS
to be 88 million metric tons (Mt) of contained REOs in 2002.
China, with 31%, had the largest share of those world reserves.
China’s reserves are primarily contained in bastnäsite-bearing
carbonatites and REE carbonatite/hydrothermal iron-oxide
deposits. Australia’s reserves include rare earths contained in
monazite; owing to its widespread availability as a very lowcost byproduct of heavy-mineral sands processing, however,
thorium-free ores have precluded its use in most parts of the
world. Australia’s other major reserve of rare earths is in the
Mount Weld carbonatite.
Austria.—Treibacher Industrie AG acquired a 25% interest
in Estonian company AS Silmet, a rare-earth processing and
metallurgical company in Sillamäe. Treibacher has the option
to acquire an additional 25% holding in Silmet if economic
or mutual interests of the companies are favorable. Both
companies have expertise in rare-earth chemicals, metallurgy,
and processing (Treibacher Industrie AG, undated§).
Treibacher sells a full range of rare-earth products, including
all of the oxides, ferrocerium/lighter flint alloys, hydrogen
storage alloys, individual rare-earth metals, mischmetal and 15
different cerium compounds and solutions.
Australia.—Lynas Corporation Ltd. continued with
development of its Mount Weld rare-earth deposit 30 kilometers
(km) south of Laverton, Western Australia (Matthew James,
Lynas Corp. Ltd., June 17, 2003, oral commun.). Measured
reserves at Mount Weld were 1.2 Mt grading 15.7% REOs
and indicated reserves were an additional 5 Mt grading 11.8%
REOs. Inferred resources were 1.5 Mt grading 9.9% REOs.
The light-group rare-earth elements (LREEs) deposit has an
expected mine life of at least 20 years with a rare-earth cutoff
RARE EARTHS—2002 61.5
grade of 4%. Naturally occurring radioactive mineral content
at Mount Weld is a low 0.05%. In March, Lynas commenced
operation of a pilot plant at the site. Future plans are to build
a flotation plant at the mine site to produce 32,500 t of REO
concentrate per year. Concentrate from the mill will initially be
sent to China to produce 26,000 metric tons per year (t/yr) of a
45% REO rare-earth carbonate on a toll basis. Separated rareearth compounds are also planned for production in China with
a capacity of 10,500 t/yr.
Australia remained one of the world’s major potential sources
of rare-earth elements from its alkaline intrusive deposit, heavymineral sands, and rare-earth lateritic deposits. Monazite is
a constituent in essentially all of Australia’s heavy-mineral
sands deposits. It is normally recovered and separated during
processing but, in most cases, is either returned to tailings because
of a lack of demand or stored for future sale. In 2002, major
producers of heavy-mineral sand concentrates in Australia, in
order of production, were Iluka Resources, Ltd., Tiwest Joint
Venture, Consolidated Rutile, Ltd. (CRL) (43% owned by Iluka
Resources Ltd.), RZM/Cable Sands, Ltd. (CSL), Mineral Deposits
Ltd. (MDL), Currumbin Minerals Pty. Ltd., and Murray Basin
Titanium Pty. Ltd. (Mineral Sands Report, 2003).
Australia Zirconia Ltd. (AZL) (a wholly owned subsidiary
of Alkane Exploration Ltd.) revised its resource estimate for
the Dubbo zirconia-rare earth deposit in New South Wales to
37.5 Mt. The alkaline intrusive ore, an altered trachyte, grades
1.96% zirconium oxide, 0.745% rare-earth oxides, 0.46%
niobium oxide, 0.14% yttrium oxide, and 0.04% hafnium oxide,
and 0.03% tantalum oxide (Industrial Minerals, 2002f).
Iluka operated eight mines in Australia (six on the west coast
and two on the east coast) and two in the United States. Iluka’s
Australian subsidiary WA Titanium Minerals operated six mines
and a zircon finishing plant (Narngulu) in Western Australia in
2002. Two new mines near Eneabba, Western Australia—the South
Tails and Depot Hill deposits were planned for development in the
first half of 2003 (Iluka Resources Limited, 2003§).
Iluka’s other mining operations in Western Australia were
the North West Mine near Capel, the North Mine and South
Mine near Eneabba, and the Yoganup, Yoganup Extended, and
Busselton Mines in the southwestern region. Mining of the
remnants of the Yoganup Extended Mine were scheduled to
begin in early 2003.
Iluka’s 50%-owned two east coast mines, the Yarraman and
Ibis, were operated by CRL on North Stradbroke Island, New
South Wales. Production was lower because of lower grades at
Yarraman and operating problems with the tailings circuit (Iluka
Resources Limited, 2003§). The tailings circuit was upgraded
in late 2002 with improved production rates and recoveries
expected in 2003. CRL’s Ibis Mine was scheduled for closure
because the company shifted production to its Enterprise deposit
in New South Wales. The dredge and infrastructure at Ibis
are scheduled for shipment to the Enterprise location in 2003.
CRL’s overall production for 2003 was expected to be lower
because of the move. CRL operated a dry separation plant at
Pinkenba, Brisbane, Queensland.
Iluka increased its total heavy-mineral resources by 15%,
while its heavy-mineral reserves increased by 14% (Iluka
Resources Limited, 2003§). In the Murray Basin deposit area
of New South Wales and Victoria, Iluka increased its resources
of economic heavy-minerals by 28% (Iluka Resources Limited,
2002). The increase is primarily the result of adding three new
deposits—the Boulka (near Ouyen), Dispersion, and Snapper.
The Dispersion deposit in New South Wales has a resource of
7.3 Mt grading 22% heavy minerals with a 15% zircon content.
The 10 Ouyen deposits have a reported total resource of about
60 Mt grading 15.7% heavy minerals. The Snapper deposit has
a resource of 5.111 Mt grading 13.8% heavy minerals (Iluka
Resources Limited, 2002).
Iluka purchased a 100% interest in Basin Minerals Limited
(BML) in the Murray Basin (Iluka Resources Ltd., 2003, p. 5).
Iluka paid A$139 million in June for BML’s extensive heavymineral sands interests, including the Culgoa and Douglas
deposits. BML’s major deposit includes the Douglas mineralsands project in southwestern Victoria. Iluka planned initial
development of the Douglas deposit in the last half of 2003.
The Douglas deposit covers an area of 5,860 square kilometers
and has a reported resource of 22.4 Mt of heavy minerals. Five
strandline deposits within the Douglas deposit contain 14.18 Mt
of economic heavy minerals (Mineral Sands Report, 2002).
BeMaX Resources N.L. (75%) and Probo Mining Pty. Ltd.
(25%) announced they would begin development of their
Ginkgo Mineral Sands Project (Ginkgo), 120 km north of
Mildura, Victoria, in the Murray Basin near Pooncarie, New
South Wales. The partners announced that they had obtained
mining leases (Industrial Minerals, 2002d). A bankable
feasibility study was completed and approval to develop the
deposit was received from the New South Wales Minister of
Planning (Industrial Minerals 2002a). Reserves are 184 Mt
of ore grading 3.2% heavy minerals. Reserve estimates were
increased by 21% to a revised 40 Mt with a mine life of 25
years. Production from the Ginkgo deposit was expected to
commence in late 2003 with shipments emanating in early 2004.
A heavy-mineral production rate of 285,000 t/yr was planned
(BeMaX Resources N.L., 2002; Industrial Minerals, 2002a).
Southern Titanium N.L. reported that it was acquiring working
capital to develop its recently acquired Mindarie deposit in
the Murray Basin (Industrial Minerals, 2002b). Funding was
to be used to complete a bankable feasibility study, bonds for
purchasing mine and plant equipment, and other obligations.
Southern obtained 100% of the Mindarie deposit from Steiner
Holdings Pty. Ltd. Production from the Mindarie was expected to
begin in 2004 (Huleatt, Jaques, and Towner, 2003).
Doral Mineral Sands Pty. Ltd. opened its $30 million
Dardanup Mine in Western Australia on October 8 (Huleatt,
Jaques, and Towner, 2003). Capacity at the operation, which is
15 km east of Bunbury, was 120,000 t/yr of titanium minerals
and 10,000 t/yr of zircon.
Brazil.—Reserves of rare earths were 109,000 t contained
in various types of deposits, including alkaline intrusives,
carbonatites, fluvial or stream placers, lateritic ores, and marine
placers. The reserves, comprising measured and indicated
quantities of monazite, were distributed in deposits primarily
in the States of Rio de Janeiro (24,570 t), Bahia (10,186 t), and
Espírito Santo (4,136 t) (Fabricio da Silva, 2002). The main
placer reserves were in the States of Minas Gerais (24,396 t),
Espírito Santo (11,372 t), and Bahia (3,481 t). In 2001, total
reserves of rare earths in Brazil were about 6 Mt grading 0.5%
REOs contained. Brazil did not produce rare earths in 2001, the
61.6 U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY MINERALS YEARBOOK—2002
latest year for which Government data were available (Fabricio
da Silva, 2002).
China.—Production of rare-earth concentrates in China was
80,600 t of REOs in 2001, the latest year for which reported
data were available (table 6). Refined and processed products
reached 71,000 t of REOs, including production of individual
high-purity rare-earth product, which accounted for 36,000
t of the total. Concentrate production in 2001 was 10.4%
higher than in 2000. Consumption within China increased by
17% in 2001 to about 22,600 t of REOs. Permanent magnets
and phosphors, the major domestic use, consumed 6,300 t of
equivalent REOs. Metallurgical applications, the second largest
sector, consumed 5,500 t of equivalent REOs, up by 5.7% from
the 2000 level (China Rare Earth Information, 2002).
Production of rare-earth magnets in 2001 was 8,650 t,
distributed between 8,000 t of NIB magnets, 500 t of bonded
NIB magnets, and 150 t of samarium-cobalt magnets.
Phosphors consumed 1,100 t of material for television and
lamps, using 750 t of equivalent REOs. Rechargeable NiMH
battery alloys that contain rare earths consumed 1,200 t of
REOs in the manufacture of 300 million batteries. Other major
consuming rare-earth sectors in 2001 were 2,900 t in glass and
ceramics, 3,400 t in agriculture, 4,500 t in catalysis and oil
cracking catalysts, and 5,500 t in metallurgy and machinery
(China Rare Earth Information, 2002).
Jiangxi Rare Earth Metal Tungsten Group Co. and the city
of Ganzhou have formed the joint venture Jiangxi Rare Earth
Group to explore for rare earths in southern China. Located in
Ganzhou, the company had capital of Y350 million (US$42.3
million). The city of Ganzhou contributed Y170 million, and
Jiangxi Rare Earth Metal Tungsten group provided Y180 million
to fund the venture (China Rare Earth News, 2002§).
Estonia.—AS Silmet (a subsidiary of the AS Silmet Group)
separated rare earths at its plant in Sillamäe. Located on the
northeastern coast of Estonia on the Gulf of Finland, Silmet
operates three plants—a rare earth separations plant, a rare
metals production plant, and a metallurgical factory for
producing alloys. The separation plant has capacity of 3,000
t/yr of rare-earth compounds, and the metals plant, a capacity
of 700 t/yr. Rare-earth processing at the facility started in 1970
(AS Silmet Group, undated§).
Treibacher Industrie AG of Austria acquired a 25% interest in
AS Silmet and negotiated an option to acquire an additional 25%
of Silmet if economic conditions warrant further investment (AS
Silmet Group, 2002§). Treibacher’s rare-earth unit Treibacher
Auermet Produktions GMBH produces several rare-earth alloys,
compounds, and metals at its facilities in Austria.
France.—Rhodia Electronics & Catalysis announced the
startup of its Eolys™ production unit to reduce diesel particulate
emissions to the environment (Rhodia Electronics & Catalysis,
2002). Rhodia partnered with Peugeot Citroën, to develop
the emission system using Eolys™. The Eolys™ system has
been extensively tested on the Peugeot 607 HDi direct injection
diesel engine and has resulted in the elimination of 99.9%
of particulates. This equates to 0.001 gram of particulates
per kilometer driven. The exhaust emission system has been
installed on the Peugeot 307, Peugeot 406, Peugeot 607 and the
Citroën C5.
India.—Indian Rare Earth Ltd. (IRE) operates three heavymineral sand mines at Chavara in Kerala State, Manavalakurichi
in Tamil Nadu State, and the Orissa Sands Complex in Orissa
State. In 2002, IRE recovered and processed monazite to produce
thorium-free rare-earth chloride and byproduct thorium hydroxide.
Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd. (KMML) mined and processed
heavy-mineral sands from beach sands along the Chavara coast
in Kerala State. KMML announced that it was building a new
mineral separation plant to increase capacity to about 3 million
metric tons per year (Mt/yr) of ilmenite, with concomitant
increases in the other heavy minerals. Monazite from the KMML
deposits on the Chavara coast had an average composition of
57.5% REOs with 7.96% thorium oxide and 28.2% phosphate,
with a specific gravity of 5.14 (Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd.,
undated§). The heavy-mineral sands of the coast and adjoining
seabeds contained 240 Mt of ilmenite, 60 Mt of sillimanite, 50 Mt
of zircon, 20 Mt of rutile, and 4 Mt of monazite.
Japan.—Japan refined 5,423 t of rare earths in 2002, an
increase from the 5,104 t produced in 2001. The rare earths were
produced from imported ores and intermediate raw materials.
Imports of rare earths during the year were 22,571 t, an increase
from the 19,736 t imported in 2001. The value of imports,
however, decreased by 14% to $16,457 million in 2002 from
$18,600 million in 2001 (Roskill’s Letter from Japan, 2003c).
Japanese rare-earth imports declined for lanthanum oxide and
rare-earth compounds (including intermediate raw materials)
and increased for cerium oxide, other cerium compounds,
ferrocerium, rare-earth metals, and yttrium oxide. Imports from
the United States decreased to 512 t in 2002 from 664 t in 2001.
Estimated production of Japanese bonded rare-earth magnets
in 2002 was 500 t, a decrease from the 591 t produced in 2001
(Roskill’s Letter from Japan, 2003b). After a decade of doubledigit growth, the decrease in NIB magnet production is the third
decline in 3 years. Demand also decreased for non-rare-earth
bonded magnets. Production of rare-earth magnets, including
sintered and bonded types was 4,636 t for 2002, valued at
52,484 million yen (Roskill’s Letter from Japan, 2003a)
Japanese imports of rare earths from China were as follows:
cerium compounds, 5,651 t; rare-earth metals, 4,947 t; cerium
oxide, 3,621 t; rare-earth compounds, 3,513 t; lanthanum oxide,
1,119 t; yttrium oxide, 884 t; and ferrocerium, 54 t (Roskill’s
Letter from Japan, 2003b).
Total imports in 2002 were 22,571 t classified as follows:
other cerium compounds, 6,225 t; rare-earth metals, 4,985; rareearth compounds, 4,463 t; cerium oxide, 4,161 t; lanthanum
oxide, 1,315 t; yttrium oxide, 917 t; and ferrocerium, 505 t
(Roskill’s Letter from Japan, 2002b). No rare-earth chlorides
were imported in 2002. China continued to be the leading
source of rare-earth imports for Japan with 19,789 t in 2002, an
increase from the 15,461 t imported in 2001.
Kenya.—Tiomin Resources Inc. announced that it was
awarded a mining lease from the Kenyan Mining and
Prospecting Licensing Committee for its Kwale heavy-mineral
sands project. The mining lease is valid for 16 years and
allows for a 10-year extension. The Kwale project is expected
to generate socioeconomic benefits to the region through
the formation of direct and indirect employment, road and
communication infrastructure, and skill development (Tiomin
Resources Inc., 2002§). Resources at Kwale are 200 Mt of
heavy-mineral sands containing 3.8 Mt of ilmenite, 1.1 Mt of
RARE EARTHS—2002 61.7
rutile, 0.6 Mt of zircon, and lesser amounts of monazite.
Korea, North.—Formed in 1988, Korea International
Chemical Joint Venture Company (or Chosun International
Chemicals Joint Operation Co. or Choson International
Chemicals Joint Operation Co.) was created to process and
refine rare earths from monazite. The plant was reportedly
designed using solvent extraction technology from China’s Yue
Long Chemical Plant near Shanghai. The North Korean plant
was completed in April 1990 in Hamhung, and production began
in 1991. Monazite feed for the plant is mined at the Ch’olsan
Uranium Mine near Ch’olsan-kun, P’yong’an Province. The
operation was reportedly closed in 1997 but was reported to
be operating in November 2002 by the Korean Central News
Agency. The Hamhung plant has the capacity to process 1,500
t/yr of monazite with an output of 400 t/yr of rare-earth metals
and oxides (Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2003§).
Kyrgyzstan.—The Kutessai II rare-earth deposit contains
a complex ore. The rare-earth content of the Kutessai ore is
enriched in the heavy rare earths with LREEs constituting 54.5%,
heavy-group rare-earth elements (HREE) constituting 43.7%,
and 1.8% constituting losses during analysis (moisture, volatiles).
Reserves at Kutessai II are 20.2 Mt ore with an average grade of
0.25% rare earths. Total rare earths in the deposit are 51,500 t
(Geological Survey of Kyrgyzstan, undated§).
Malawi.—The Kangankunde rare-earth and strontianite
deposit is being developed by Rift Valley Resource
Developments Ltd. The deposit is an intrusive carbonatite
located 90 km north of Blantyre. Rising 200 meters above
the plains, Kangankunde contains 11 Mt of ore with proven
resources of 6 Mt. The deposit grades 8% strontianite and 2.6%
hard-rock monazite. Phase 1 of the development is to produce
30,000 t of ore and recover 20,000 t/yr of strontium carbonate.
Phase 2 is scheduled to produce a monazite concentrate
(Industrial Minerals, 2002c).
Madagascar.—QIT Madagascar Minerals S.A. (QMM),
owned by Rio Tinto Iron and Titanium Inc. (RIT) (80%) and the
Malagasy Government (20%), announced that it had received
environmental permits (end of 2001) for a proposed heavymineral sands deposit in southeastern Madagascar. QMM was
granted the permits after 3½ years of negotiations. In 2001,
RIT started its feasibility study on mining heavy-mineral sands
near Tolagnaro (Fort Dauphin) in southeastern Madagascar
and proceeded with the next phase in 2002 with market and
engineering studies (Industrial Minerals, 2002e).
Mozambique.—Kenmare Resources plc of Dublin, Ireland,
issued an invitation to bid for the construction of its proposed
Moma heavy-mineral sands project. The invitation proposes a
2-year timetable from signing to commissioning of the Moma
mine and processing facilities (Kenmare Resources plc, 2002§).
Russia.—Solikamsk Magnesium Works (SMZ) reported that it
has been producing rare-earth chlorides from loparite concentrate,
equivalent to 3,000 to 4,000 t of REOs. Previously it had sent the
material to Estonia and Kazakhstan for separation and refining.
SMZ announced that it was constructing a facility to process
the material into 3,000 to 4,000 t of rare-earth carbonate. Phase
two of SMZ’s plan was to produce a 90% to 96%-purity cerium
carbonate or hydroxide, an 80% to 98% lanthanum concentrate,
and concentrates containing neodymium, praseodymium, and
samarium. SWZ is also producing a master alloy of magnesiumzirconium-lanthanides containing 1.5% to 35% zirconium, 2.5%
to 35% rare earths, and the remainder magnesium (Solikamsk
Magnesium Works, 2003a§). SMZ’s produces two mixed rareearth compounds—a rare-earth chloride with a minimum content
of 38% REOs and a rare-earth carbonate with a minimum content
of 45% REOs (Solikamsk Magnesium Works, 2003b§).
In January, creditors of AO Sevredmet’s Lovozero Mining
Combine decided to auction off the bankrupt Lovozero loparite
deposit in the Murmansk region. The starting price for the
property was set at $6 million. The mine is the principal source
of LREEs in Russia. The mining operation was controlled by
AO Sevredmet’s Lovozero Mining Combine until March 15,
2000, when Sevredmet went into receivership. The mining
company restructured under OAO Sevredmet and formed the
new public company Lovozero Mining Company (LMC). LMC
operated the Umbrozero mining facility to produce loparite
concentrate. To be more cost effective, LMC is considering
increasing capacity to 2,000 metric tons per month (t/mo) from
1,000 t/mo. The principal problem is that SMZ can only process
1,000 t/mo. Talks reportedly began with Estonian rare-earth
processor AS Silmet to restore its loparite processing equipment
in Sillamäe. Presently, SMZ is the only consumer of loparite
concentrate (Grechina, 2002§).
South Africa.—Rare Earth Extraction Co. Ltd. (RARECO)
received funding of $16 million from the Industrial Development
Corporation and was awaiting financing from an overseas
investor. Development of the deposit at Steenkampskrall
requires the refurbishment of the old Anglo American plc mine
that was operated between 1952 and 1963 for its hard-rock
monazite. RARECO has reportedly signed a 5-year agreement
with a European company for two-thirds of Steenkampskrall’s
output. The balance of production not under contract will be
placed on the spot market (Mining Weekly, 2002§).
Ticor South Africa joint-venture partners Ticor Ltd. of
Australia (40%) and Kumba Resources Ltd. (60%) (a subsidiary
of Iscor Ltd.) processed heavy-minerals at the Hillendale Mine
in KwaZulu-Natal Province. The deposit, which is mined using
water jets, has a high kaolinite clay content. The tailings design
includes a special dam with multiple single discharge risers to
control the properties of the non-Newtonian slurry. The tailings
are treated with multiple deep-cone thickeners to produce
high-density tailings. Underflow is pumped with positive
displacement pumps to a thickened tailings dam (Patterson &
Cooke, undated§). The Hillendale mine has reserves of 73 Mt
of ore grading 5.6% heavy minerals.
Namakwa Sands (a wholly owned subsidiary of Anglo
American) continued to increase production of heavy-mineral
sands as a result of a R1.13 billion expansion at its mine at
Brand-se-Baai. Reserves at the site are more than 500 million
tons (MBendi Information Services (Pty) Ltd., 2002§).
Sri Lanka.—Production of heavy-mineral sands from the
Pulmoddai mine is on hold until negotiations are completed
between the Sri Lankan Government and the Tamil Tiger
opposition. Shipments from the mine were expected to resume
in 2003. The Government-owned Lanka Mineral Sands
Ltd. has large stocks of mineral sands but has not sent bulk
shipments since September 1997 when rebels sank a bulk
carrier ship. Pulmoddai has a heavy-mineral content of 60% to
70%. Reserves at the deposit are expected to last 25 to 30 years
61.8 U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY MINERALS YEARBOOK—2002
(Industrial Minerals, 2002g).
Current Research and Technology
Etrema Products, Inc. (a wholly owned subsidiary of Edge
Technologies, Inc. of Ames, IA) announced that it has developed
a high-power ultrasonic system using rare earths to kill pathogens
in the laboratory. Based on TERFENOL-D, an alloy of iron and
the rare-earth elements terbium and dysprosium that expands or
contracts with the application or removal of an external magnetic
field, the ultrasonic system was able to kill bacteria, including
coliform [Escherichia coli (E. coli), fecal coliform], streptococcus,
and enterococcus. TERFENOL-D is also used in acoustic
devices, actuators, sonar, and other smart materials for the oil and
gas industry (Etrema Products, Inc., 2002b§).
Edge Technologies, Inc. announced that it launched a new
subsidiary Shell Shocked Sound, Inc. (S3I) to develop and
commercialize folded-shell speaker technology (FSST). The new
technology will allow the development of smaller high-performance
speakers based on the rare-earth material TERFENOL-D. FSST
employs a three-dimensional module that eliminates the need for a
speaker enclosure and is highly efficient, producing a greater volume
from a given power input. The FSST technology is being developed
for speakers by S3I, which licensed the original technology from the
Canadian Defence Research Establishment, Atlantic (DREA) for use
in sonar systems (Etrema Products Inc., 2002a§).
Etrema Products, Inc. was selected by the U.S. Department of
the Navy to develop an improved process to produce high-grade
TERFENOL-D for use in new improved sonar systems. The rareearth material is presently made in two grades—production and
research. Research-grade material performs 20% to 30% better
than production-grade material as a giant magnetostrictive alloy,
but the substantially higher cost to produce research-grade material
has limited production. According to Etrema, until recently, it was
believed that commercial quantities of research-grade TERFENOLD could only be produced in the zero-gravity environment of
space. Scientists at Etrema, however, have successfully tested a
new process to produce research-grade material that they hope to
scale-up with moderate modification of their existing production
equipment (Etrema Products, Inc, 2002c§).
TERFENOL-D magnetostrictive actuators have been
used to create high-frequency energy to vibrate commercial
screening systems, like those used in the foundry, mining, and
oil industries. Compared to mechanically driven screening
systems, the rare-earth alloy system may eliminate blinding, a
problem caused when screen openings get blocked by near-sized
particles or material deposits. Research is continuing with a
major screening manufacturer to optimize power and frequency
for different applications (Etrema Products, Inc., 2002d§).
Outlook
The use of rare earths, especially in automotive pollution
catalysts, permanent magnets, and rechargeable batteries,
is expected to continue to increase as future demand for
automobiles, computers, electronics, and portable equipment
grows. Rare-earth markets are expected to require greater
amounts of higher purity mixed and separated products to meet
the demand. Strong demand for cerium and neodymium for
use in automotive catalytic converters and permanent magnets
is expected to continue throughout the decade. Future growth
is forecast for rare earths in rechargeable Ni-MH batteries, fiber
optics, and medical applications that include magnetic resonance
imaging (MRI) contrast agents, positron emission tomography
(PET) scintillation detectors, medical isotopes, and dental and
surgical lasers. Long-term growth is expected for rare earths in
magnetic refrigeration alloys.
World reserves are sufficient to meet forecasted world demand
well into the 21st century. Several very large rare-earth deposits
in Australia and China (for example, Mianning in China,
and Mount Weld in Australia) have yet to be fully developed
because world demand is currently being satisfied by existing
production. World resources should be adequate to satisfy
demand for the foreseeable future.
Domestic companies have shifted away from using naturally
occurring radioactive rare-earth ores. This trend has had
a negative impact on monazite-containing mineral-sands
operations worldwide. Future long-term demand for monazite,
however, is expected to increase because of its abundant supply
and its recovery as a low-cost byproduct. The cost and space to
dispose of radioactive waste products in the United States are
expected to continue to increase, severely limiting domestic use
of low-cost monazite and other thorium-bearing rare-earth ores.
World rare-earth markets are expected to continue to be
very competitive in competing with China’s lower wages,
inexpensive utilities, and fewer environmental and permitting
requirements. China is expected to remain the world’s principal
rare-earth supplier. Economic growth in several developing
countries will provide new and potentially large markets in
Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe.
The long-term outlook is for an increasingly competitive and
diverse group of rare-earth suppliers. As research and technology
continue to advance the knowledge of rare earths and their
interactions with other elements, the economic base of the rareearth industry is expected to continue to grow. New applications
are expected to continue to be discovered and developed.
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Mining—Heavy minerals mining, accessed June 12, 2003, at URL
http://www.mbendi.co.za/indy/ming/hvym/af/sa/p0005.htm.
Mining Weekly, 2002 (February 27), Africa gets first rare-earth mine, accessed
June 11, 2003, at URL http://www.ckit.co.za/homepage.asp?page=/
Right%20Index/News%20Letter/Newsletter/Articles%20March%202002/
africa.htm.
Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2003 (April), Nuclear facilities—Korea International
Chemical Joint Venture Company, accessed May 20, 2003, at URL
http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles/NK/45_522.html.
Patterson & Cooke, [undated], Paste and thickened tailings systems, accessed
May 20, 2003, at URL http://www.pcce.co.za/pcce3.html.
Rhodia Electronics & Catalysis, 2002 (January 22), Inauguration of Rhodia’s
Eolys™ production unit—Tangible proof of successful partnerships and a
commitment to sustainable development, accessed February 12, 2003, at URL
http://www.rhodia-ec.com/site_ec_us/events_press/page_services.asp.
Solikamsk Magnesium Works, 2003a, Magnesium production, accessed May 22,
2003, at URL http://www.smw.ru/html_en/products_en.htm.
Solikamsk Magnesium Works, 2003b, Recent developments in magnesium
and rare earth metals at Solikamsk Magnesium Works and the outlook for
the future, accessed May 22, 2003, at URL http://www.mmta.co.uk/PDFs/
Eugeny.pdf.
Tiomin Resources Inc., 2002 (December 16), Kenya Government approves
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Mineral Sands Project, News Release, accessed March 21, 2003, at URL
http://www.tiomin.com/s/NewsReleases.asp?ReportID=45547&_Title=
Kenya-Government-Approves-Application-By-Tiomin-Resources-For-ASpecial-Min.
Treibacher Industrie AG, [undated], Das unternehmen—Treibacher Industrie
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[(The undertaking—Treibacher Industrie AG acquires 25% holding in
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http://www.treibacher.com/de/index.html.
U.S. International Trade Commission, 2002, Harmonized tariff schedule of the
United States, accessed December 10, 2002, at URL http://www.usitc.gov/
taffairs.htm#HTS.
GENERAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION
U.S. Geological Survey Publications
Rare-Earth Elements. Ch. in United States Mineral Resources,
Professional Paper 820, 1973.
Rare-Earth Oxides. International Strategic Minerals Inventory
Summary Report, Circular 930-N, 1993.
Rare Earths. Ch. in Mineral Commodity Summaries, annual.
Scandium. Ch. in Mineral Commodity Summaries, annual.
Thorium. Ch. in Mineral Commodity Summaries, annual.
Yttrium. Ch. in Mineral Commodity Summaries, annual.
Other
American Metal Market, daily.
China Rare Earth Information (newsletter).
Economics of Rare Earths, The. Roskill Information Services
Ltd.
Elements: Rare Earths. Specialty Metals and Applied Technology.
ERES Newsletter. European Rare-Earth and Actinide Society.
Industrial Minerals, monthly.
Metal Bulletin, semiweekly.
Rare Earth Elements and Yttrium. Ch. in Mineral Facts and
Problems, U.S. Bureau of Mines Bulletin 675, 1985.
Rare-earth Information Center Insight.
Rare-earth Information Center News.
61.10 U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY MINERALS YEARBOOK—2002
Mountain Pass, Bayan Obo, Inner North Capel, North Stradbroke Island, Green Cove Springs, Nangang,
Rare earth CA, United States2 Mongolia, China3 Western Australia4 Queensland, Australia5 FL, United States6 Guangdong, China7
Cerium 49.10 50.00 46.00 45.80 43.70 42.70
Dysprosium trace 0.1 0.7 0.60 0.9 0.8
Erbium trace trace 0.2 0.2 trace 0.3
Europium 0.1 0.2 0.053 0.8 0.16 0.1
Gadolinium 0.2 0.7 1.49 1.80 6.60 2.00
Holmium trace trace 0.053 0.1 0.11 0.12
Lanthanum 33.20 23.00 23.90 21.50 17.50 23.00
Lutetium trace trace trace 0.01 trace 0.14
Neodymium 12.00 18.50 17.40 18.60 17.50 17.00
Praseodymium 4.34 6.20 5.00 5.30 5.00 4.10
Samarium 0.8 0.8 2.53 3.10 4.90 3.00
Terbium trace 0.1 0.035 0.3 0.26 0.7
Thulium trace trace trace trace trace trace
Ytterbium trace trace 0.1 0.1 0.21 2.40
Yttrium 0.10 trace 2.40 2.50 3.20 2.40
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100
Eastern coast, Mount Weld, Lahat, Perak, Southeast Xunwu, Jiangxi Longnan, Jiangxi
Brazil8 Australia9 Malaysia2 Guangdong, China10 Province, China11 Province, China11
Cerium 47.00 51.00 3.13 3.00 2.40 0.4
Dysprosium 0.4 0.2 8.30 9.10 trace 6.70
Erbium 0.1 0.2 6.40 5.60 trace 4.90
Europium 0.1 0.4 trace 0.2 0.5 0.10
Gadolinium 1.00 1.00 3.50 5.00 3.00 6.90
Holmium trace 0.1 2.00 2.60 trace 1.60
Lanthanum 24.00 26.00 1.24 1.20 43.4 1.82
See footnotes at end of table.
TABLE 2
RARE EARTH CONTENTS OF MAJOR AND POTENTIAL SOURCE MINERALS1
(Percentage of total rare-earth oxide)
Bastnasite Monazite
Monazite Xenotime Rare earth laterite
1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Production of rare-earth concentrates2 5,000 e 5,000 e 5,000 e 5,000 e 5,000 e
Exports:
Cerium compounds 4,640 3,960 4,050 4,490 r 2,970
Rare-earth metals, scandium, yttrium 724 1,600 1,650 891 r 1,310
Ores and concentrates -- -- -- -- -Rare-earth compounds, organic or inorganic 1,630 1,690 1,760 1,680 r 1,430
Ferrocerium and pyrophoric alloys 2,460 2,360 2,300 2,540 r 2,860
Imports for consumption:e
Monazite -- -- -- -- -Cerium compounds 4,940 5,970 6,450 3,870 r 2,540
Ferrocerium and pyrophoric alloys 117 120 118 118 89
Metals, alloys, oxides, other compounds 8,950 17,200 17,300 15,200 11,600
Prices, yearend
Bastnasite concentrate, rare-earth oxides basis dollars per kilogram $4.19 e $4.85 e $5.51 e $5.51 e $5.51 e
Monazite concentrate, rare-earth oxides basis do. $0.73 $0.73 e $0.73 e $0.73 e $0.73 e
Mischmetal, metal basis do. $16.00 3 $16.00 3 $16.00 3 $16.00 3 $16.00 3
Employment, mine and mill NA NA NA NA NA
TABLE 1
SALIENT U.S. RARE EARTH STATISTICS1
(Metric tons of rare-earth oxides unless otherwise specified)
3Source: Elements, TradeTech, Denver, CO.
eEstimated. rRevised. NA Not available. -- Zero.
1Data are rounded to no more than three significant digits, except prices.
2Comprises only the rare earths derived from bastnasite as obtained from Molycorp, Inc.
RARE EARTHS—2002 61.11
Standard package
Purity quantity
Product (oxide) (percentage) (kilograms)
Cerium 96.00 25 19.20
Do. 99.50 900 31.50
Dysprosium 99.00 3 120.00
Erbium 96.00 2 155.00
Europium 99.99 1 990.00 1
Gadolinium 99.99 3 130.00
Holmium 99.90 10 440.00 2
Lanthanum 99.99 25 23.00
Lutetium 99.99 2 3,500.00
Neodymium 95.00 20 28.50
Praseodymium 96.00 20 36.80
Samarium 99.90 25 360.00
Do. 99.99 25 435.00
Scandium 99.99 1 6,000.00
Terbium 99.99 5 535.00
Thulium 99.90 5 2,300.00
Ytterbium 99.00 10 340.00
Yttrium 99.99 50 88.00
TABLE 3
RARE-EARTH OXIDE PRICES IN 2002
Price
Source: Rhodia Electronics & Catalysis, Inc.
(dollars per
kilogram)
1Price for quantity greater than 40 kilograms is $900.00 per kilogram.
2Price for quantity less than 10 kilograms is $485.00 per kilogram.
Eastern coast, Mount Weld, Lahat, Perak, Southeast Xunwu, Jiangxi Longnan, Jiangxi
Brazil8 Australia9 Malaysia2 Guangdong, China10 Province, China11 Province, China11
Lutetium not determined trace 1.00 1.80 0.1 0.4
Neodymium 18.50 15.00 1.60 3.50 31.70 3.00
Praseodymium 4.50 4.00 0.5 0.6 9.00 0.7
Samarium 3.00 1.80 1.10 2.20 3.90 2.80
Terbium 0.1 0.1 0.9 1.20 trace 1.30
Thulium trace trace 1.10 1.30 trace 0.7
Ytterbium 0.02 0.1 6.80 6.00 0.3 2.50
Yttrium 1.40 trace 61.00 59.30 8.00 65.00
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100
(Percentage of total rare-earth oxide)
Monazite Xenotime Rare earth laterite
TABLE 2--Continued
RARE EARTH CONTENTS OF MAJOR AND POTENTIAL SOURCE MINERALS1
1Data are rounded to no more than three significant digits; may not add to totals shown.
2Johnson, G.W., and Sisneros, T.E., 1981, Analysis of rare-earth elements in ore concentrate samples using direct current plasma spectrometry—Proceedings of the
15th Rare Earth Research Conference, Rolla, MO, June 15-18, 1981, The rare earths in modern science and technology: New York, NY, Plenum Press, v. 3,
p. 525-529.
3Zang, Zhang Bao, Lu Ke Yi, King Kue Chu, Wei Wei Cheng, and Wang Wen Cheng, 1982, Rare-earth industry in China: Hydrometallurgy, v. 9, no. 2, 1982,
p. 205-210.
4Westralian Sands Ltd., 1979, Product specifications, effective January 1980: Capel, Australia, Westralian Sands Ltd. brochure, 8 p.
5Analysis from Consolidated Rutile Ltd.
6Analysis from RGC Minerals (USA), Green Cove Springs, FL.
7Xi, Zhang, 1986, The present status of Nd-Fe-B magnets in China—Proceedings of the Impact of Neodymium-Iron-Boron Materials on Permanent Magnet Users
and Producers Conference, Clearwater, FL, March 2-4, 1986: Clearwater, FL, Gorham International Inc., 5 p.
8Krumholz, Pavel, 1991, Brazilian practice for monazite treatment: Symposium on Rare Metals, Sendai, Japan, December 12-13, 1991, Proceedings, p. 78-82
11Introduction to Jiangxi Rare-Earths and Applied Products, 1985, Jiangxi Province brochure: International Fair for Rare Earths, Beijing, China, September 1985,
42 p. (in English and Chinese).
(preprint).
9Kingsnorth, Dudley, 1992, Mount Weld A new source of light rare earths—Proceedings of the TMS and Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Rare Earth
Symposium, San Diego, CA, March 1-5, 1992, Proceedings: Sydney, Australia, Lynas Gold NL, 8 p.
10Nakamura, Shigeo, 1988, China and rare metals—Rare earth: Industrial Rare Metals, no. 94, May, p. 23-28.
61.12 U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY MINERALS YEARBOOK—2002
Gross weight Gross weight
Category and country2 (kilograms) Value (kilograms) Value
Cerium compounds: (2846.10.0000)
Australia 2,740 $15,400 1,930 $32,200
Belgium 104,000 211,000 14,200 220,000
Brazil 241,000 486,000 185,000 430,000
Canada 300,000 2,640,000 358,000 4,520,000
France 121,000 401,000 4,960 289,000
Germany 518,000 1,900,000 528,000 1,490,000
Hong Kong 35,700 357,000 24,500 179,000
India 89,400 557,000 62,900 371,000
Japan 462,000 2,580,000 185,000 1,360,000
Korea, Republic of 1,080,000 4,900,000 620,000 2,600,000
Malaysia 122,000 594,000 174,000 792,000
Mexico 232,000 1,640,000 273,000 1,850,000
Netherlands 11,100 96,200 11,400 166,000
Singapore 13,600 69,900 53,200 79,400
South Africa 988 10,400 3,940 422,000
Taiwan 286,000 1,260,000 73,900 417,000
United Kingdom 386,000 703,000 98,200 387,000
Other 477,000 1,700,000 284,000 1,620,000
Total 4,490,000 20,100,000 2,960,000 17,200,000
Total estimated equivalent rare-earth oxide (REO) content 4,490,000 20,100,000 2,960,000 17,200,000
Rare-earth compounds: (2846.90.0000)
Austria 30,000 885,000 62,000 1,580,000
Brazil 114 46,600 27,500 235,000
Canada 148,000 1,640,000 259,000 3,220,000
China 69,300 244,000 428,000 755,000
Colombia -- -- 2,430 21,000
Finland 17,200 578,000 15,400 275,000
France 77,700 403,000 17,600 527,000
Germany 43,300 1,810,000 59,900 1,880,000
India 91,200 519,000 1,640 8,310
Japan 35,100 1,800,000 57,000 6,840,000
Korea, Republic of 161,000 1,020,000 159,000 1,060,000
Mexico 50,100 422,000 36,600 467,000
Taiwan 119,000 3,510,000 62,300 1,550,000
United Kingdom 28,900 1,420,000 41,000 1,230,000
Other 812,000 4,020,000 198,000 1,940,000
Total 1,680,000 18,300,000 1,430,000 21,600,000
Total estimated equivalent REO content 1,680,000 18,300,000 1,430,000 21,600,000
Rare-earth metals, including scandium and yttrium: (2805.30.0000)
China 12 37,200 109,000 793,000
France 1,110 34,600 1 5,900
Germany 4,780 244,000 6,260 196,000
Japan 438,000 1,520,000 652,000 1,900,000
Korea, Republic of 817 92,900 967 140,000
Taiwan 1 4,800 1 7,050
United Kingdom 1,940 281,000 1,320 208,000
Other 295,000 4,310,000 323,000 2,830,000
Total 742,000 6,520,000 1,090,000 6,080,000
Total estimated equivalent REO content 891,000 6,520,000 1,310,000 6,080,000
Ferrocerium and other pyrophoric alloys: (3606.90.0000)
Argentina 25,800 $161,000 -- -Australia 1,830 58,300 13,100 $414,000
Brazil 7,740 26,100 1,190 47,000
Canada 915,000 1,790,000 822,000 2,250,000
Chile 29,700 35,500 32,900 37,000
Colombia 17,300 23,200 9,610 12,400
TABLE 4
U.S. EXPORTS OF RARE EARTHS, BY COUNTRY1
2001 2002
See footnotes at end of table.
RARE EARTHS—2002 61.13
Gross weight Gross weight
Category and country2 (kilograms) Value (kilograms) Value
Ferrocerium and other pyrophoric alloys--Continued: (3606.90.0000)
Costa Rica 99 6,500 -- -France 3,540 111,000 1,120 91,200
Germany 289,000 433,000 861,000 1,540,000
Greece 33,700 74,500 43,300 65,800
Hong Kong 238,000 627,000 206,000 269,000
Italy 818 9,930 289 8,170
Japan 126,000 1,440,000 151,000 1,290,000
Korea, Republic of 3,250 85,200 2,050 74,400
Kuwait 16,500 22,000 82,300 82,200
Mexico 49,000 1,140,000 191,000 1,180,000
Netherlands 70,400 220,000 77,100 208,000
New Zealand 35,700 65,300 36,700 62,800
Saudi Arabia -- -- 13,500 17,300
Singapore 37,500 131,000 3,390 92,700
South Africa 42,800 103,000 -- -Spain -- -- 188 16,700
Taiwan 55,600 74,100 23,000 110,000
United Arab Emirates 314,000 308,000 168,000 156,000
United Kingdom 165,000 426,000 267,000 574,000
Other 381,000 666,000 211,000 435,000
Total 2,860,000 8,030,000 3,220,000 9,040,000
Total estimated equivalent REO content 2,540,000 8,030,000 2,860,000 9,040,000
TABLE 4--Continued
U.S. EXPORTS OF RARE EARTHS, BY COUNTRY1
2Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States category numbers.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau.
2001 2002
-- Zero.
1Data are rounded to no more than three significant digits; may not add to totals shown.
Gross weight Gross weight
Category and country2 (kilograms) Value (kilograms) Value
Cerium compounds, including oxides, hydroxides, nitrates, sulfate chlorides, oxalates: (2846.10.0000)
Austria 59,000 $439,000 76,500 $337,000
China 4,060,000 14,000,000 2,770,000 9,050,000
France 1,240,000 6,650,000 725,000 4,420,000
Japan 288,000 6,500,000 162,000 4,980,000
Other 115,000 737,000 73,600 348,000
Total 5,760,000 28,300,000 3,800,000 19,100,000
Total estimated equivalent rare-earth oxide (REO) content 3,870,000 28,300,000 2,540,000 19,100,000
Yttrium compounds content by weight greater than 19% but less than 85% oxide equivalent:
(2846.90.4000)
China 107,000 1,560,000 57,300 858,000
France 14,300 305,000 4,680 160,000
Germany -- -- 10 10,100
Japan 8,190 2,420,000 11,100 2,820,000
United Kingdom 262 9,340 -- -Other 30 15,600 238 25,400
Total 130,000 4,310,000 73,300 3,870,000
Total estimated equivalent rare-earth oxide (REO) content 77,900 4,310,000 44,000 3,870,000
TABLE 5
U.S. IMPORTS FOR CONSUMPTION OF RARE EARTHS, BY COUNTRY1
2001 2002
See foonotes at end of table.
61.14 U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY MINERALS YEARBOOK—2002
Gross weight Gross weight
Category and country2 (kilograms) Value (kilograms) Value
Rare-earth compounds, including oxides, hydroxides, nitrates, other compounds except chlorides:
(2846.90.8000)
Austria 38,900 1,300,000 75,200 1,550,000
China 8,850,000 31,000,000 5,670,000 18,700,000
Estonia 900,000 769,000 1,270,000 1,510,000
France 1,820,000 11,400,000 1,600,000 11,800,000
Germany 42,000 1,280,000 13,600 635,000
Hong Kong -- -- 65,000 169,000
Japan 302,000 7,550,000 231,000 3,780,000
Norway 34,500 14,800,000 1,730 2,520,000
Russia 124,000 196,000 571,000 1,140,000
Taiwan 18,000 48,900 9 5,750
United Kingdom 41,900 4,600,000 157,000 6,480,000
Other 26,000 195,000 25,200 916,000
Total 12,200,000 73,000,000 9,670,000 49,200,000
Total estimated equivalent REO content 9,150,000 73,000,000 7,260,000 49,200,000
Mixtures of rare-earth oxides except cerium oxide: (2846.90.2010)
Austria -- -- 4,230 97,600
China 2,030,000 8,160,000 1,010,000 3,220,000
France 3 2,050 740 66,600
Germany 1,740 93,300 -- -Japan 7,160 655,000 19,700 994,000
Russia 301 141,000 336 36,100
United Kingdom 386 14,300 4,600 52,300
Other 5,770 89,600 1,540 47,300
Total 2,040,000 9,160,000 1,040,000 4,510,000
Total estimated equivalent REO content 2,040,000 9,160,000 1,040,000 4,510,000
Rare-earth metals, whether intermixed or alloyed: (2805.30.0000)
China 613,000 $7,660,000 580,000 $3,130,000
Hong Kong 566 2,520 540 13,300
Japan 546,000 6,350,000 536,000 5,870,000
Russia -- -- 5 2,250
United Kingdom 16,700 278,000 10,700 403,000
Other 6,810 115,000 84,400 575,000
Total 1,180,000 14,400,000 1,210,000 9,990,000
Total estimated equivalent REO content 1,420,000 14,400,000 1,460,000 9,990,000
Mixtures of rare-earth chlorides, except cerium chloride: (2846.90.2050)
China 4,020,000 6,180,000 2,270,000 3,350,000
France 26,600 549,000 26,400 222,000
India 1,490,000 1,720,000 599,000 734,000
Israel -- -- 951,000 542,000
Japan 1,510 110,000 3,260 123,000
Netherlands -- -- 18,800 128,000
United Kingdom 20,400 101,000 18,600 89,700
Other 65,100 403,000 33,300 416,000
Total 5,620,000 9,060,000 3,920,000 5,600,000
Total estimated equivalent REO content 2,590,000 9,060,000 1,800,000 5,600,000
Ferrocerium and other pyrophoric alloys: (3606.90.3000)
Australia -- -- 2,310 32,100
Austria 16,300 267,000 13,800 269,000
France 113,000 1,170,000 81,900 877,000
Other 3,310 33,200 2,780 38,700
Total 132,000 1,470,000 101,000 1,220,000
Total estimated equivalent REO content 118,000 1,470,000 89,500 1,220,000
TABLE 5--Continued
U.S. IMPORTS FOR CONSUMPTION OF RARE EARTHS, BY COUNTRY1
2001 2002
See foonotes at end of table.
RARE EARTHS—2002 61.15
Country3 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
China 60,000 70,000 73,000 80,600 88,000
Commonwealth of Independent States4 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000
India 2,700 2,700 2,700 2,700 r 2,700
Kyrgyzstan:
Compounds 691 5 956 5 NA NA NA
Metals 6,355 5 5,159 5 7,736 5 3,800 100
Malaysia 282 5 625 5 446 5 351 r, 5 360
Sri Lanka 120 120 -- -- -United States6 5,000 5,000 5,000 5,000 5,000
Total 77,100 86,600 90,900 94,500 r 98,200
TABLE 6
RARE EARTHS: ESTIMATED WORLD MINE PRODUCTION, BY COUNTRY1, 2
(Metric tons of rare earth oxide equivalent)
rRevised. NA Not available. -- Zero.
1World totals, U.S. data, and estimated data have been rounded to no more than three significant digits; may not add to totals shown.
2Table includes data available through June 13, 2003.
5Reported figure.
6Comprises only the rare earths derived from bastnasite.
3In addition to the countries listed, rare-earth minerals are believed to be produced in Indonesia, Nigeria, North Korea, and Vietnam, but
information is inadequate for formulation of reliable estimates of output levels.
4Does not include Kyrgyzstan; information is inadequate to formulate reliable estimates for individual producing countries, including
Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine.
Country3 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Brazil 200 200 200 200 200
India 5,000 5,000 5,000 5,000 5,000
Malaysia 517 4 1,147 4 818 4 510 500
Sri Lanka 200 200 -- -- -Total 5,920 6,550 6,020 5,710 5,700
-- Zero.
TABLE 7
MONAZITE CONCENTRATE: ESTIMATED WORLD PRODUCTION, BY COUNTRY1, 2
(Metric tons of gross weight)
the Commonwealth of Independent States may produce monazite; available general information is inadequate for
4Reported figure.
formulation of reliable estimates of output levels.
1World totals and estimated data are rounded to no more than three significant digits; may not add to totals shown.
2Table includes data available through April 18, 2003.
3In addition to the countries listed, China, Indonesia, Nigeria, North Korea, the Republic of Korea, and countries of
-- Zero.
TABLE 5--Continued
U.S. IMPORTS FOR CONSUMPTION OF RARE EARTHS, BY COUNTRY1
1Data are rounded to no more than three significant digits; may not add to totals shown.
2Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States category number.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau.
-- Zero.
TABLE 5--Continued
U.S. IMPORTS FOR CONSUMPTION OF RARE EARTHS, BY COUNTRY1
1Data are rounded to no more than three significant digits; may n t add to totals shown.
2Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States category number.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau.
61.16 U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY MINERALS YEARBOOK—2002
FIGURE 1
PRINCIPAL SOURCES OF U.S. IMPORTS OF RARE EARTHS IN 2002
CHINA
62 %
FRANCE
12%

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