Rare earth metals are the group of seventeen metals including the set fifteen lanthanides (lanthanum, praseodymium, cerium, neodymium, samarium, promethium, europium, dysprosium, holmium, gadolinium, terbium, thulium, erbium, ytterbium, and lutetium) with similar chemical properties plus scandium and yttrium. These rare earth metals are classified into heavy rare earth metals (yttrium, gadolinium, europium, terbium, holmium, dysprosium, thulium, erbium, ytterbium, and lutetium) and light rare earth metals (lanthanum, praseodymium, cerium, promethium, neodymium, and samarium). They are used in many everyday devices such as computer memory, DVD’s, fluorescent lighting, cell phones, car catalytic converters, rechargeable batteries, magnets and much more.

The reserves of rare earth metals are highly concentrated in a few regions. China holds the world’s largest reserves of rare earth metals followed by Russia, United States, Australia, India and others. China is the largest producer and consumer of rare earth metals accounting for over 95% of the total global rare earth metal production. The global rare earth market revenues were USD 3.4 billion in 2011 and are expected to grow at a CAGR of 13% from 2012 to 2018. Magnets, metallurgy, catalysts, phosphors, polishing, glass and ceramics are the major application areas of rare earth metals. Magnets are the largest application segment in terms of revenue and volume. Metallurgy is the fastest growing application segment which is expected to exhibit strength during the next five years.

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The rare earth metals market can also be segmented based on their type. Cerium is the most widely used rare earth metal followed by lanthanum, neodymium and others. However, scandium is the largest revenue generating rare earth metal followed by neodymium, dysprosium and others. Cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, praseodymium and yttrium are the most commonly used in fast growing application segments such as metallurgy and magnets. The growth trend in automotives, consumer electronics and electric vehicle industries is mainly driving the demand for rare earth metals across the world.

Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare Earth Hi-Tech Co, Arafura Resources, Alkane Resources, Great Western Minerals Group, Avalon Rare Metals, Rare Elements Resources Ltd, Greenland Rare Earth and Energy Ltd, China Rare Earth Holdings, Indian Rare Earths, Lynas Corporation Ltd., Molycorp, and Chinalco Yunnan Copper Resources Ltd. are some of the major manufacturers of rare earth metals.

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