Primary REE: Neodymium (Nd), Samarium (Sm)
Secondary REE: Dysprosium (Dy)
Magnets are the driving market for rare earth demand. Not only is it the dominant consumer by volume (32%) and value (38%, $500-550m.), but the applications of magnets are in critical environmental and defence technologies.
Neodymium-iron-boron (Nd-Fe-B) has the highest strength of all magnets (see, p.44) and are used a wide variety of applications including: computer hard disc drives, wind turbine motors, missiles, and guidance systems commonly used by the USA.
The crux of the issue is that the USA does not like the idea of being dependant on China for the rare earth elements (REE) or magnets that make their missiles and guidance systems function.
The discovery of Nd-Fe-B magnets was a result of attempts to reduce dependency on copper in the late 1970s to early 1980s. In a situation which may serve as a warning for rare earths today,...