If you’re interested in learning about neodymium mining, this blog is for you! We’ll describe everything you need to know about this important mineral, including where it’s found, how it was discovered, and what grades and purity levels are available.
In addition to discussing production processes and prices, we’ll also discuss some of the benefits and drawbacks of mining neodymium. So whether you’re looking to learn more about this fascinating resource or get an overview of the industry, check out Neodymium Mining 101!
What is neodymium?
Neodymium (Nd) is a rare earth element crucial for many industries, including the manufacture of electric vehicles and wind turbines. Nd is also used in numerous other applications, such as lighting, magnets, and lasers.
There are several ways to extract neodymium from the ground:
1) By mining it from its natural occurrence: This method uses open-pit or underground mines to extract neodymium ore from the earth. The environmental impacts of this process can be significant; however, recent advances have made mining more environmentally sustainable.
2) By extracting it using recycling processes: Recycling methods involve extracting neodymium from old products like televisions and computer monitors by melting them down and separating the elements. This process has low environmental impacts because nearly all the waste created during recycling is recycled again.
3) By producing it synthetically: Synthetic methods use chemical reactions to create neodymium without relying on natural occurrences. While this approach has lower environmental costs than extraction methods using mined resources, it does come with some risks.
4) By creating hybrid systems that use both mined and synthetic materials: Hybrid systems combine natural elements with those produced through synthetic means to create an optimal mix for specific applications.
Where is neodymium found?
Neodymium is mainly found in the earth’s crust. The mineral has a range of uses, including medical and military equipment. Black neodymium is the most common type, but other colors are also found in small quantities.
How was neodymium discovered?
Neodymium was discovered in the 19th century.
The metal is not found naturally, so it must be extracted from the earth
Mining neodymium is environmentally friendly
There are no known health risks associated with mining neodymium.
Neodymium mining is environmentally friendly because metal extraction does not damage the environment. Most mined neodymium goes into permanent use, such as construction materials and batteries. There have been a few cases where improperly handling rare earth metals led to environmental disasters, but these incidents are relatively rare.
Mining for neodymium does have some negative aspects, though; it has been linked to land-grabbing in countries like China and India due to its high value. In fact, according to Business Insider, “a recent study by researcher GSR [Global Supply Response] projected that global demand for NEA [nickel-cobalt-aluminum] will total 1 million tons per year through 2026 — more than five times current production levels,” which has caused miners in those countries to rush into exploiting deposits before they run out.
Neodymium grades and purity
Neodymium is a rare earth element with many applications in the modern world. The most common use for neodymium is in magnets, which create strong and durable magnets. However, neodymium also has several other applications, including:
1) Aircraft engines: Neodymium helps the engine produce more power and better fuel economy
2) Motorsports: NdFeB (neodymium-iron-boron) material can provide high torque and low weight for motorsports vehicles like Formula 1 cars
3) Solar energy: Light absorbing properties of neodymium make it ideal for converting solar energy into usable electricity
4) LEDs: High brightness levels of LED lighting are achieved with light sources made of materials like neodymium phosphor
5) Gadgets: Precisely machined parts made of precious metals like gold or platinum often require small amounts of specific elements, such as niobium or titanium. Neodymium allows these parts to be precision manufactured at reduced costs
The production process of neodymium mining
Neodymium is a rare earth element used in various industries, including high-tech, automotive, and energy. The production of neodymium occurs via two main methods: primary and secondary mining.
Primary mining refers to the extraction of neodymium from its natural ore deposits. This process usually involves using large mechanized trucks and conveyors to move the ore around a mine site. Because this type of mining can be time-sensitive, it’s often done in remote locations where infrastructure is less expensive.
Secondary mining is more common because it allows for consistent production levels over time. In secondary mining, mills separate the elements from raw materials like coal or rock cassiterite. Secondary miners also use heavier machinery than primary miners, making it possible to extract larger quantities of neodymium at once.
Benefits of neodymium mining
Neodymium is a valuable mineral with many applications. Here are five of the most important benefits:
- Neodymium is an essential alloy for many industries, including wind turbines, electric cars, and magnets for MRI machines.
- Neodymium mining has many applications, such as manufacturing wind turbines and electric cars, creating permanent magnets in MRI machines, improving drilling efficiency in oil wells, and making aviation batteries lighter.
- The neodymium mining process is environmentally friendly because it doesn’t use heavy metals or harmful chemicals like arsenic found in other types of mining operations.
- Because neodymium is rare, ensuring its continued availability requires meticulous attention to detail and sound management practices.
- By learning about neodymium mining, you can ensure that this strategic resource remains available for future generations
Disadvantages of neodymium mining
Neodymium is a rare earth mineral that has many commercial and industrial applications. However, the neodymium mining process is difficult and has several disadvantages:
- Neodymium ore must be processed carefully to avoid environmental damage. This includes removing impurities and reducing the ore to a powder for shipping
- The energy consumed in neodymium mining is high, even by 21st-century standards. Some estimates place it at over 50% of global electricity consumption
- The yield from neodymium mines is low, typically only 1-2% of the mined material ends up as neodymium metal
- Neodymium prices are volatile, making it difficult to justify investing in this type of mine economically
- Neodymium Mining can be expensive
Top 5 neodymium mining companies
Five major companies extract neodymium: BHP Billiton, Vale, Rio Tinto, Zenith Minerals, and Alumina Limited. In 2016 these companies produced more than 56%, 66%, and 27% of the world’s total neodymium production, respectively. They all have different mining procedures and strategies, which is why their market share varies yearly. Let’s take a closer look at each company in detail.
- BHP Billiton: BHP Billiton is one of the oldest mining companies in Australia. It became one of the world’s leading producers of rare earth minerals when it acquired Australian miner Lynas Corporation in 2008 for $2 billion. It operates three mines in Australia – Olympic Dam (Queensland), Mount Isa (Queensland), and Wandoan (South Australia). The mine at Mount Isa has been subject to various protests over its environmental impact since its opening in 2002 due to concerns about water consumption, air pollution, climate change, and social impacts on local Aboriginal communities.
- Vale: Based in Brazil, Vale is one of the largest miners worldwide with operations across six continents, including two mines located inside Brazil – Serra da Cana near Salvador de Bahia and Carajás near Rio de Janeiro- totaling more than 10 million tonnes/year capacity.
- Rio Tinto: One of Britain’s oldest corporations with interests spanning coal resources to iron ore developments.
- Zenith Minerals is a global neodymium producer, an essential mineral used in many high-tech applications. The company’s mines produce the material primarily from recycled materials, such as ferrous and nonferrous metals and mining byproducts. Zenith also produces rare earth, including dysprosium, terbium, europium, yttrium, lanthanum, cerium, and praseodymium. In addition to its production operations in North America (Canada), Europe (UK), Asia (China), and Australia/New Zealand, Zenith has strategic investments in other countries that will increase production capacity over time.
- Alumina Limited is a Canadian mining company specializing in the extraction and processing of neodymium, a rare earth element. Alumina Limited has two mines located in Ontario, Canada: the Nechako mine and the Kitimat mine. The Nechako mine produces neodymium oxide, while the Kitimat mine produces both neodymium and samarium cobaltite.
Alumina Limited’s primary customers are in the electric vehicle (EV) industry. EVs use rare earth elements to power their motors, batteries, and other components. These elements are often difficult to find and expensive to extract, so companies like Alumina Limited play an important role in supplying these materials.
The company also sells its products to industries that rely on rare earth, such as aerospace, telecommunications, defense applications, and oil & gas exploration. Alumina Limited employs around 1,000 people across its operations in Canada.
The neodymium price is dropping again. It has been doing so for a while now, and it isn’t any time soon. If you are in the mining business, this could impact your bottom line.
What’s going on?
First, let me give you some background information about neodymium so that you can understand why the market is reacting the way it is now. Neodymium is a rare earth element, and it’s found mainly in China and Russia.
It’s used in many industries, including smartphones, computers, wind turbines, batteries, and missiles. You get the idea! So there is always a demand for this mineral because companies depend on it to make their products work properly.
But why did the prices start dropping back in 2016?….well. That isn’t very easy! There are two main sources of supply: primary production (in which miners extract raw materials from the ground) and processing (which involves refining or extracting materials). The problem with these sources is that they’ve decreased over time. But more about that later!
Now onto what stabilization means for investors. Stabilization usually happens when there’s enough volume available at stable prices, so customers don’t have to worry too much about future fluctuations. However, this may take some time since we see large drops/increases throughout most markets. But overall, it is.
This article covered all you need to know about neodymium mining. We discussed the different grades of neodymium, where it is found, the production process, and the benefits and disadvantages of mining it. Finally, we briefly over viewed the world’s top 5 neodymium mining companies. We hope you found this blog helpful!