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Rare Earth Supply Chain and Industrial Ecosystem: A Material Flow Assessment of European Union

1) Assess the trends in supply and production status of these critical minerals and mineral products worldwide and Europe’s dependence including on intermediate products such as permanent magnets, RE based super alloys, batteries, polishing compounds, phosphors, catalysts etc. 2) Trace the entire value chain of the identified minerals from mining to intermediate products to final products and calculate the value addition in each stage 3) Identify the importance and measure the criticality of identified minerals and mineral products to the European economy and workforce 4) Identify types of information and possible research initiatives that will enhance understanding of critical minerals and mineral products

Looptijd 2015  -  2017
Contact Nabeel Mancheri
Financiering European Commission - Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

Rare earths are a critical component of many high and green technologies such energy efficient lights, wind turbines, hybrid and full electric vehicles (electro motors and batteries) and solar panels and are important ingredients in hard disks, lasers and superconducting magnets. The concentration of rare earth elements (REEs) and other critical metals in countries like China and Russia raises the vital issue of security of supply as Europe is the leading importer and consumer of these minerals both in mineral and applied forms. The criticality of these minerals were highlighted in the reports of the European Commission’s Ad hoc Working Group on defining critical raw materials. These raw materials are fundamental to Europe’s economy, growth and jobs. The importance of these minerals to the European economy has never been studied thoroughly, though more recently securing reliable, sustainable and undistorted access to crucial non-energy raw materials has been of growing concern. In the EU, responses have been initiated in different nations, economic areas and companies, with the European Commission launching the “Raw Materials Initiative (RMI)”.

The European Commission has identified criticality of raw materials along with addressing the entire raw materials value chain in the raw materials part of the Societal Challenge 5 of Horizon 2020. Therefore an empirical study on rare earth elements and its importance to the European economy become an important issue to study.

This study aims to identify the mineral sources, mineral production and recycling technologies, as well as key applications within European economies by combining the input-output matrix as developed at CML with the network theories that N. Mancheri has developed in previous work. The study will calculate the value addition at each stage of the life cycle of rare earths.

Mancheri, Nabeel A. "World trade in rare earths, Chinese export restrictions, and implications." Resources Policy 46 (2015): 262-271.