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Mapping first to final uses for rare earth elements, globally and in the United States

December 30, 2022

Estimating the material flows of rare earth elements (REEs) is essential to understanding which industries are most vulnerable to potential REE supply disruptions which, in turn, may inform policy recommendations aimed at reducing the supply risk. However, the REEs are a group of mineral commodities characterized by highly uncertain estimates of supply and demand due to the REE market's complexity, opacity, and small size. In this study, a streamlined methodology was applied to map mineral commodity first-use to final-use applications and to estimate total requirements at the national level based on available industrial data for final-use finished goods. This analysis examines REEs both as a group and individually, showing that total US requirements are between 15% and 16.5% of world requirements for the year 2015, the latest year with the most complete information available. The findings shed light on US industrial capabilities by revealing the discrepancy between the types of REEs that go into US raw material consumption and those that are contained in embedded consumption. For instance, given the United States’ large oil refining industry, US raw material consumption of lanthanum is quite high. In contrast, US raw material consumption of neodymium is relatively low, whereas embedded demand is comparatively high. This reflects the lack of industrial capacity to process REE concentrates into magnet material combined with the US's high imports of products that contain rare earth permanent magnets.

Publication Year 2023
Title Mapping first to final uses for rare earth elements, globally and in the United States
DOI 10.1111/jiec.13354
Authors Elisa Alonso, David G. Pineault, Joseph Gambogi, Nedal T. Nassar
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Industrial Ecology
Index ID 70240176
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Minerals Information Center