We recently received an updated version of a presentation on rare earths from Dudley Kingsnorth, which he originally put together for the SME Meeting in Phoenix in March, and which Clint Cox presented on his behalf. The updated version tweaks some of the data and can be downloaded from here.
In making the updates, Dudley indicated that the global financial crisis has set back growth in the rare earths market by two years, which means that forecasts for 2013 made in 2007/08, have now slipped out to 2015. Dudley feels that actual global consumption is unlikely to exceed 200,000 tonnes of rare earth oxides [REOs] until 2016, but due to ongoing issues of ‘balance’ [some rare earths are more useful than others, but all have to be mined and at least initially processed from a deposit to get at the “good stuff”], production will need to exceed 200,000 tonnes of REO in 2014 for the first time.
Dudley also noted that, while prices have improved significantly in the past 3-5 months, demand is still only 75-80% of the 2007/08 peak, so there is still a ways to go to meet his original forecast for 2010 of 124,000 tonnes of REO.
Dudley also comments on current efforts by Lynas and Molycorp to ramp up production at their respective Mt Weld and Mountain Pass mines. He said that the intent of these companies to get to capacities of 20,000 tonnes per year, coupled with the global financial crisis and a lack of progress by the other potential producers to complete their pilot plant and feasibility studies, meant that it was unlikely that other potential producers would be at meaningful production levels by 2014/15; with the possible exception of Alkane Resource’s Dubbo project and the Dong Pao deposit in Vietnam. Dudley felt, however, that by mid to late 2011 we should be in a position to identify the leaders of the next generation of non-Chinese rare earths producers, as outlined in his SME presentation.
Non-Chinese production would need to grow at a rate of 10-15,000 tonnes per year of REO from 2015; Dudley indicated that this would not only be new projects but expansions of existing producers.
You can get a copy of the updated presentation from here.
[First published at RareMetalBlog.]