Rare earth metals. Technological breakthrough or export of raw materials?

Редкоземельные металлы оксидыRussia intends to establish its own production of rare earth metals. This is necessary if the country is to develop innovative industry and effectively defend strategic interests, experts say .
By 1 February 2013 the government should develop and adopt a program of the country’s production of rare earth metals (REM). These include the 17 elements that are used in high-tech devices (of the same tablets and smartphones), and even in aircraft, automotive and nuclear industries, and, of course, the military.In recent years, the demand for rare metals in particular has grown — the world becomes more technological, and the proposal, however, declined. China, which is the world’s main producer of rare earth (its share according to various estimates 90-95%) do not want to share a valuable raw material.

«Since 2010, the different groups of metals costs have gone up from two hundred to one thousand percent — said metals analyst at investment bank» Renaissance Capital «Vasily Kuligin. — Mostly due to the fact that China, as a monopoly producer, concentrates at main power and closes export flows that creates a shortage in foreign markets. Naturally, the industry is becoming interesting. Including creates interest for the state. »

Сhinese monopoly is less like a major global player. Indeed, in the case of trade or other conflicts Celestial may create serious problems of business technology companies and strike at strategic industry competitors. Therefore, Russia, the U.S., Australia, India, Brazil and other countries are trying to actively develop their production. Russia has 20% of the world’s rare earth metals, but their production does not exceed 2% of the world. Low-tech domestic industry, they are not concerned. Moreover, the country lacks refining capacity. The Soviet Union was building factories REM, but after the collapse of the company found themselves outside Russia — Estonia and Kazakhstan. Russia has to supply them with raw materials and purchased finished goods. Now, when the rare earth metals are becoming a factor of global competition, this situation is barely acceptable, the analyst independent analytical agency «Investkafe» Andrew Schenck:

«In order to ensure the sovereignty and security of the country, not necessarily to build a fully production of rare earth metals, but you need at least to increase the share of production of these metals in Russia. To fully ensure the military industry.»

Moreover, the Russian leadership has repeatedly stated policy of modernization of the economy and development of innovative industries that rare metals are indispensable. But as long as there are no industries that could generate significant local demand for REM. And if the production of these metals will be established before the appearance of strong demand, will sell the valuable raw materials abroad. That is, Russia will only strengthen the raw orientation of its economy. According to Andrew Schenck of «Investkafe», the possibility of such a development is large:

«The creation of a complete chain of production of rare earth metals in an amount corresponding to our potential (about 20% of the world market), take five to ten years. To create a large innovative companies require large time. So if you start the program now, you will likely we diversify our commodity economies, but it will increase the dependence on raw materials. »

However, the expert emphasizes, diversification of resource-based economy is also important to reduce the country’s dependence on oil and gas market. Moreover, as experts predict, the world demand for rare metals each year will only grow, and prices continue to remain high.


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