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Open-File Report 2013–1072

Preliminary Estimates of the Quantities of Rare-Earth Elements Contained in Selected Products and in Imports of Semimanufactured Products to the United States, 2010

By Donald I. Bleiwas and Joseph Gambogi

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (1.98 MB)Abstract

Rare-earth elements (REEs) are contained in a wide range of products of economic and strategic importance to the Nation. The REEs may or may not represent a significant component of that product by mass, value, or volume; however, in many cases, the embedded REEs are critical for the device’s function. Domestic sources of primary supply and the manufacturing facilities to produce products are inadequate to meet U.S. requirements; therefore, a significant percentage of the supply of REEs and the products that contain them are imported to the United States. In 2011, mines in China produced roughly 97 percent of the world’s supply of REEs, and the country’s production of these elements will likely dominate global supply until at least 2020. Preliminary estimates of the types and amount of rare-earth elements, reported as oxides, in semimanufactured form and the amounts used for electric vehicle batteries, catalytic converters, computers, and other applications were developed to provide a perspective on the Nation’s use of these elements. The amount of rare-earth metals recovered from recycling, remanufacturing, and reuse is negligible when the tonnage of products that contain REEs deposited in landfills and retained in storage is considered. Under favorable market conditions, the recovery of REEs from obsolete products could potentially displace a portion of the supply from primary sources.

First posted April 8, 2013

For additional information contact:
Donald Bleiwas
Telephone: (303) 236-5200

Joseph Gambogi
Telephone: (703) 648-7718

or

Director
National Minerals Information Center
U.S. Geological Survey
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA 20192
Telephone: (703) 648-4961
Email: nmicrecordsmgt@usgs.gov
Internet: http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/

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Suggested citation:

Bleiwas, D.I., and Gambogi, Joseph, 2013, Preliminary estimates of the quantities of rare-earth elements contained in selected products and in imports of semimanufactured products to the United States, 2010: U.S. Geological Survey Open–File Report 2013–1072, 14 p., http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2013/1072/.



Contents

Abstract

Introduction

How Rare-Earth Elements Are Used

Exploration Activity and Vulnerability of Supply

Current Sources of Production

Preliminary Estimates of Quantities of Rare-Earth Elements in Manufactured and Imported Products in the United States

Additional Research Ongoing and Planned

Summary and Preliminary Conclusions

Acknowledgments

References Cited


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