InvestorIntelReport Excerpt: I was in Ningbo, China, last week, a Chinese ‘town’ — the size of metro Toronto, just 3 hours by car south of Shanghai. I was an invited guest speaker at the first 2014 International Conference on NdFeB Magnets: Supply Chain, Critical Properties & Applications. There were more than 250 fully paid attendees, and there were 450 attendees, including student “guests” for the keynote speech by Professor Masato Sagawa, who led the Sumitomo team that ‘commercialized’ the sintered neodymium-iron-boron in the late 1970s.
The conference was hosted by the core groups of the Chinese rare earth permanent magnet industry and of the Chinese rare earth supply chain. The host groups from last August when I was a guest speaker in Ganzhou, the Chinese Society of Rare Earths (CSRE) and the Association of China Rare Earth Industry (ACREI) were also hosts in Ningbo. There were dozens of attendees from Chinese companies representing the entire spectrum of the Chinese total rare earth supply chain.
There were about 25 non-Chinese attendees including 6 of the 25 invited speakers.
There were highly technical presentations on specific topics, general presentations, and one or two ‘popular’ presentations for laymen. The conference languages were Chinese and English and the simultaneous translation was the best I have ever encountered.
No such conference could be so well attended outside of China. I doubt whether a group of 50 could be assembled in the USA for such a meeting. It would be possible in Europe. So, having said all of that, was it worthwhile?
I do not believe that western capital will underwrite the development of any rare earth project for which the development of the mine exceeds USD$500,000,000.00. I also believe that no ‘region’ will see the economic development of a rare earth mine if there is not, in that region, at least the access to captive or toll downstream processing capacity to convert the ore to individual rare earth metals and alloys. This downstream capacity, particularly for separation of the mixed concentrates into individual rare earths, may be regionally pooled or even fulfilled by politically independent tolling operations. Finally it will be necessary for any and all such developments to have a credible capability to economically and legally remove and dispose of radioactive elements associated with their mineral processing.
To access this complete paper, which includes Light Rare Earths Supply, Heavy Rare Earths Supply, and the Future of the Rare Earths Market for the next decade from the Chinese perspective — including relevant facts on the rare earth permanent magnet industry, click here to log-on or click here to subscribe to the InvestorIntelReport.