Rare earth metal recovery loses steam
By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling
A handful of e-scrap processors have been carefully assessing potential options to recover rare earth metals from obsolete electronics. However, a steep price drop caused by increased mining has led to market caution.
Two years ago the Chinese government rattled the rare earth metals industry by imposing supply restrictions. At that time, China produced more than 90 percent of such metals. Miners elsewhere rushed into the market to develop new sources. Now some of these companies are backing out of the market due to overcapacity, say several analysts. Executives at Kimberley Rare Earths cited in the Wall Street Journal estimate that we now have 400 years of supply being developed. This has caused metal prices to plummet by as much as 80 percent.