Why United States Concerned China Restricting Exports of Rare Earth Magnets?

AIM-9X Rattlesnake missiles

Recently, foreign media reported that the United States intends to increase the production of rare earth magnets for military weapons through the development and purchase of equipment, and is also looking for better ways to purchase. Why is this happening in the United States? The analysis of foreign experts mainly has the following six reasons:

First, rare earth magnets are essential materials for the manufacture of many military weapons. There has been a research report that at least 36 weapons in the United States use rare earth high-energy magnets imported from China, including the F-35 "Lightning II" fighter, the F-22 Raptor, the DDG-51 destroyer, and Bly. Deli" armored vehicles and AIM-9X "Rattlesnake" missiles and so on. This means that if the United States does not have enough stock of rare earth magnets, defense will be affected.

AIM-9X Rattlesnake missiles

Second, at present, the consumption of rare earths including rare earth magnets in the United States is highly dependent on China. More than 90% of the world's rare earth permanent magnets supply comes from China, and the United States also needs to import nearly 70% of rare earth magnets from China. For example, a Citigroup report showed that China’s magnet exports totaled $1.7 billion last year, of which $257 million out of US imports totaled $395 million.

Third, the United States does not have enough capacity to manufacture rare earth permanent magnets. For example, a rare earth permanent magnet that can be used to manufacture precision guided missiles, smart bombs, and military aircraft - high temperature, corrosion resistant samarium cobalt rare earth permanent magnets. But China has.

Fourth, China's rare earth processing capacity = 5 times the amount of rare earth processing capacity added in other parts of the world. This means that it will take at least a few years to build a processing plant that is comparable to China's rare earth capacity. Although Japan and Germany are the main magnet factories outside China, the two countries also rely on imports of rare earths from China. Citigroup analysts also pointed out that although there are rare earth mines outside China, processing cannot be separated from China. Of the 50,000 tons of rare earth mines outside China, there are about 41,400 tons associated with China. For some specific rare earth elements, this ratio is even greater. For example, at present, there is no considerable separation capacity outside China to separate the heavy rare earth element lanthanum used to produce magnets.

Rare earth aerial image

Fifth, MP Materials, the only rare earth company in the United States, has a Chinese background. A-share listed company Shenghe Resources is a shareholder of MP materials with a shareholding ratio of 9.99%. The point is that even rare earth materials excavated by MP Materials from the mine in California will be sent to China for processing.

Sixth, there are reasons for worry. Based on the above points, the life of the rare earth magnet is not in its own hands. The United States is worried that if China restricts the export of rare earth magnets, some special industries in the United States may fall into the predicament of supply disruption.

In fact, this statement is inappropriate for "China restricts the export of rare earth magnets." Last year, the United States also banned its DoD from buying rare earth magnets from China! Fortunately, the impact on China's rare earth industry is limited. Why, this year's style of painting has changed suddenly! In this regard, this year, we are still generously said: As the world's largest supplier of rare earth materials, China has always adhered to the principle of openness, synergy and sharing to promote the development of the rare earth industry. On the basis of serving domestic needs, we are willing to meet the legitimate needs of countries around the world for rare earth resources. However, if any country wants to use the products made by China's exported rare earths to curb the development of China, it is unacceptable.

Rare earth image

International Seabed Authority Must Strike a Balance With Real Metal

International Seabed Authority image

The increasing demand for rare metals such as lithium and molybdenum in science and technology industry indicates explosive growth in seabed mining industry in the next few years. On July 18, IUCN added scaly snails to its Red List of Threatened Species - the first to be threatened by deep-sea mining. Marine animals account for only three locations in the western Indian Ocean; these locations include locations identified for mining. According to nature, the state and companies have signed about 1.3 million square kilometers of seabed mining and exploration contracts, which means thousands of marine species, many of which have not even been discovered are facing unprecedented extinction and risk of extinction.

The International Seabed Authority (ISA), which is responsible for deep-sea mining in international waters, also has the right to protect the international seabed. Even if seabed mining norms are expected to be finalized by 2020, they must take into account a number of factors that make deep-sea mining almost unfavorable to the long-term protection of the Earth's interests - concerns that deep-sea mining will release large amounts of carbon deposited in deep-sea sediments and exacerbate the conditions at the forefront of climate change. Marine scientists wrote an open letter to the ISA requesting independent scientists to assess corporate/national proposals and to work closely with intergovernmental organizations that could consider protection issues in advance in negotiations with companies, especially since ISA seemed to give priority to its development role in protection. However, given that the future of the planet is also related to technological development, ISA must achieve a good balance.

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Accurately Extract of 80% Rare Earth Elements from Phosphate Mine Waste in Five Minutes

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Precision Periodic announced the success of the Florida Institute of Industry and Phosphates project, which uses a reusable Thor nano-filtration system to capture, extract and separate rare earth elements (REEs) from phosphoric acid and waste products. The filter captured 40-60% of the rare earth element and radioactive element in one pass from the wet process phosphoric acid in 5 minutes, and captured 80% of the rare earth element in one pass from the sulfuric acid leaching waste in 5 minutes.

According to Brian J Andrew, CEO of Precision, "Successful testing projects have proven that Thor nano-filtration technology can change the rules of our game for the production of rare earths." He continued, "Phosphate contains 150 ppm of total rare earth. Based on our extraction capacity, we can extract 75 grams of rare earth per 1000 liters of phosphoric acid from phosphate rock. This is equivalent to a phosphate mine in Florida that produces 230 metric tons of rare earth per year, which will provide an estimated 25% of US annual military demand."

The Florida Industrial and Phosphate Institute provided liquids from two different sources for the pilot project. The first is a wet process phosphoric acid containing radioactive elements and the second is a sulfuric acid leaching solution of sludge waste. The Thor nano-filtration system captures 45-55% of the radioactive elements, which goes beyond the goal of identifying waste for other uses.laboratory image

Unlike other REE filters, heavy metals are not a matter of precision periodicity. In addition to the rare earth filter, there is another version of the precision cycle that filters out heavy metals. “The throughput through the filter is unlimited and can be designed around any application. The largest filter currently handles 9000 gallons per hour. This size filter can hold between 0.5 and 1.2 kg of rare earth, precious metals or heavy metals. The filter can use thousands of cycles before it needs to be re-adjusted or replaced."

According to Precision, it works with the company to provide filtration capabilities for the extraction and refining of rare earth elements and precious metals. REE filters are currently available for collaborative projects.

Inference of Moon Formation From Hafnium and Tungsten

Apollo project image

After the formation of the solar system 4.56 billion years ago, the moon was formed about 4.51 billion years ago. Therefore, this new study confirms that the moon was much earlier than previously thought - early studies estimated that the moon formed about 150 million years after the formation of the solar system. To achieve these results, scientists analyzed the chemical composition of samples collected during the Apollo mission. The study, “Early Moon formation inferred from hafnium-tungsten systematic" was published in Nature Geoscience. scientists’ inference of moon formation from hafnium and tungsten about 4.51 billion years ago.

This study focused on the chemical characteristics of different types of lunar samples collected by different Apollo missions. "By comparing the relative amounts of different elements in rocks formed at different times, we can see how each sample relates to solidification in the lunar interior and in the magmatic ocean," said Dr Raúl Fonseca of Cologne University.

The moon may have formed after a huge collision between a Mars-sized planet and the early Earth. Over time, the Moon absorbs material clouds that have been bombed into Earth's orbit. The newborn moon is covered by magmatic oceans, which form different types of rocks when cooled. "These rocks record information about the formation of the moon, which can still be found on the surface of the moon today," said Dr. Maxwell Thiemens, a former Cologne University researcher and lead author of the study. Dr Peter Sprung, co-author of the study, added: "This observation is no longer possible on Earth because our planet has become geologically active over time. Therefore, the moon offers a unique opportunity to study the evolution of planets. "

Apollo project image

The study of hafnium and tungsten on the moon is particularly important because they constitute the natural radioactive clock for the decay of the isotope hafnium-182 into tungsten-182. This radioactive decay lasted only the first 70 million years of the solar system. By combining the information of Hafnium and Tungsten measured in Apollo samples with the information of laboratory experiments, it was found that the moon began to solidify as early as 50 million years after the formation of the solar system. "This age information means that any significant impact must occur before that time, which answers the heated debate in the scientific community about when the moon formed," adds Professor Dr Carsten Münker from the UoC’s Institute of Geology and Mineralogy.

Maxwell Thiemens concluded: "The first step in another world 50 years ago produced samples that let us know the time and evolution of the moon. Since the formation of the moon is the last major planetary event after the formation of the earth, the age of the moon also provides the lowest age for the earth.

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European Commission Renewed Tariff on Chinese Tungsten Electrodes

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The European Commission has renewed a five-year tariff on tungsten electrodes for Chinese-made welding products, with a maximum tax rate of 63.5%, reported by the foreign news on July 29, 2019. The data source from the EU's "Official Journal of the European Union". The EU's tariffs on Chinese-made welding products were renewed. The EU renewed tariffs on tungsten electrodes for Chinese-made welding products for the second time. The European Union believes that EU producers Plansee SE and Gesellschaft fuer Wolfram Industrie mbH are “unstable” and require longer protection.


Chinese Tungsten Prices Remained Depressed by Scale of Fanya Stockpiles

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Analysis of latest tungsten market from Chinatungsten Online

Chinese tungsten prices maintained stability at the beginning of the week. The second-instance trial of Fanya case was settled last Friday on July 26, 2019. The industry was worried about stockpiles of 431.95 tons of tungsten and 29,651 tons of ammonium paratungstate(APT). So the current market pattern would remain unchanged in the short term.


Chinese Rare Earth Market - July 30, 2019

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Rare earth market quotation in China: domestic rare earth price

The overall performance of Chinese rare earth market was relatively flat, and the game between buyers and sellers was fierce. The enquiry has increased compared with the previous one, and the trading atmosphere has improved slightly. 


China Molybdenum Prices - July 30, 2019

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The China molybdenum prices showed an overall rise in the market on good performance of transactions. In the molybdenum concentrate market, with the increase of government supervision and the increase of overhaul of mainstream mining enterprises, the production capacity has been released slowly. Many holders said that they have sold out of stock, and prices have continued to increase slightly. 


New Progress in Rare Earth Extraction, Reduce Time and Pollution

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Hong Kong media said that a team of Chinese scientists has developed a new method, which they said can greatly reduce the time to extract rare earth from ore, while reducing industrial pollution.

According to the Hong Kong "South China Morning Post" website reported on May 31, the extraction of trace metals is difficult and takes several days to complete, but researchers at a Chinese Academy of Sciences research institute in Fujian said they found a way, can reduce the refining time to a few minutes.

Sun Xiaoqi, the leader of the research team, said that this is a major progress. He said: "This may lead to a technological revolution in the rare earth industry." According to Sun Xiaoqi, the standard method for extracting rare earths from ore is to immerse them in toxic chemical solutions to separate useful elements, a process that takes a week.

However, using the new materials developed by Sun Xiaoqi's research group, useful elements can be separated at an unprecedented speed and efficiency.

rare earth ore image

According to the report, under the microscope, the new phenoxycarboxylic acid extractant contains numerous solid particles with a diameter of only a few microns. When this extractant is mixed with fine particles of rare earth ore, a process called "extraction-precipitation" begins.

Sun Xiaoqi said: "This work can be completed in 20 minutes." He said that this method can also be used to extract rare earth from mining waste rock and even obtain a certain amount of rare earth from leached waste.

Sun Xiaoqi said that the new extraction method can not only reduce pollution, but also reduce production costs.

He said: "We are making this extraction process into a large-scale application phase." According to reports, some rare earth producers have completed relevant industrial tests. There are still some problems, such as how to produce extractants on a large scale and improve existing equipment in rare earth refineries, but Sun Xiaoqi said that they have received government support.

He said: "The government attaches great importance to the rare earth industry, and our research has been supported by stable and adequate funding."

rare earth extraction test image

Important Progress in Rare Earth Luminescent Nanoprobes

luminescent rare earth image

Luminescent probes are an important bio-visualization tool commonly used in many applications such as bioimaging and detection. Currently developed luminescent probes mainly include carbon nanotubes, fluorescent dyes, quantum dots and rare earth doped nanomaterials. Among them, rare earth nanomaterials have become a research hotspot due to their advantages of good light stability and low biological toxicity. However, the rare earth nanomaterials generally used have problems such as low quantum efficiency and small light absorption cross section, and the research on the regulation of their properties is at an exploratory stage.


Under the support of the national key research and development program “Nano Technology”, Professor Li Fuyou's research team at Fudan University has developed a class of nanoprobes with the same excitation and emission wavelengths and long luminescence lifetime, with rare earth elements Yb, Er, Tm, Nd. Etc. as the main doping element has a unique zero Stokes displacement photoluminescence. Such a probe is like a short-lived memory that continuously produces the same illuminating signal as the wavelength of the excitation light for a period of time after excitation. Although the traditional wavelength-based luminescence detection method cannot fully study the luminescence phenomenon, researchers have developed a new signal collection method by using the characteristics of this type of probe with longer luminescence lifetime, by controlling the illuminating collection window. After the pulse excitation, the excitation light is filtered out in the time domain to maximize the luminescence signal of such probes. For example, small-sized nanoparticles (~15 nm) with Yb as the main doping element have an emission intensity advantage of more than an order of magnitude compared to other commonly used luminescent materials. By adjusting the thickness of the shell in the core-shell structure, the luminescence lifetime of the material can be significantly adjusted.

In view of the unique properties of this type of material, the researchers developed it into a time-domain fluorescence imaging method for multi-channel decoding and live tracing in the time domain, and clinical applications such as passive targeting of tumors, showing broad application prospects.

luminescent nanoprobe imagea “Zero Stokes Displacement” photoluminescence probe design; b time domain filter and other fluorescence detection methods