TORONTO (Reuters) - Rare earth elements are used ina wide range of consumer products, from iPhones to electric carmotors.
Demand is growing, fueled by green technology. At the sametime, supplies are getting tight. China, which produces over 90percent of the world's supply, has cut exports by almost halfthis year.
A looming global shortage has pushed numerous Canadianminers into the spotlight. Here are some facts on this elusivegroup of 17 metals:
WHAT ARE RARE EARTHS?
Lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium,samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium,erbium, thulium, ytterbium, lutetium, scandium, yttrium.
WHAT ARE RARE EARTHS USED IN?
Rechargeable batteries for electric and hybrid cars,advanced ceramics, magnets for electric car motors, computers,DVD players, wind turbines, catalysts in cars and oilrefineries, computer monitors, televisions, lighting, lasers,fiber optics, glass polishing, superconductors, and weapons.
THE iPHONE CONNECTION
Rare earths make for smaller, lighter batteries and motors.The drive to miniaturization was first popularized by the SonyWalkman personal cassette tape player. Rare earths are now keyto making handheld devices like Apple's iPhone and Research InMotion's BlackBerry.
China and Japan. Global demand is forecast to grow rapidlyas demand for green products increases.
China produces over 90 percent of global supplies. Chinamined 120,000 tonnes in 2008, followed by India, which produced2,700 tonnes, Brazil and Malaysia.
The demand for dysprosium, terbium, neodymium, praseodymiumand europium is set to grow by a minimum of 8 percent a year.
Electric vehicle demand for dysprosium, neodymium andpraseodymium is set to grow by an average of 790 percent in thenext five years.
BIGGEST MINES UNDER DEVELOPMENT, OUTSIDE CHINA
Great Western Minerals, Steenkampskraal, SouthAfrica
Avalon Rare Metals, Nechalacho, Canada
Molycorp, Mountain Pass, U.S.
Lynas Corp , Mount Weld, Australia
Arafura Resources, Nolans, Australia
Sources: U.S. Geological Survey, company web sites, ByronCapital Markets
(Reporting by Julie Gordon; Additional reporting by SteveGorman and Sonali Paul; Editing by Michael Perry and Paul Tait)