Rare earth elements are also called rare earth metals. Rare earth metals have been widely used in electronics, petrochemicals, metallurgy, machinery, energy, light industry, environmental protection, agriculture and other fields.
The abundance of rare earth elements in the crust is not scarce, but the distribution is extremely uneven, mainly in China, the United States, India, the former Soviet Union, South Africa, Australia, Canada, Egypt and other countries. China is the country with the largest reserves of rare earth resources in the world. The main rare earth mines include the Bayan Obo rare earth mine, Shandong Weishan rare earth mine, and Mianning rare earth mine.
Uses of rare earths
Rare earths are known as industrial "gold". Because of their excellent photoelectromagnetic properties, they can be combined with other materials. The most significant function of various new materials with a wide range of varieties is to greatly improve the quality and performance of other products. For example, greatly improve the tactical performance of steel, aluminum alloy, magnesium alloy, and titanium alloy used to manufacture tanks, aircraft, and missiles. Moreover, rare earths are also high-tech lubricants for electronics, lasers, nuclear industry, and superconductivity. Once rare earth technology is used in the military, it will inevitably bring about a leap in military technology. In a certain sense, the overwhelming control of the US military in several local wars after the Cold War and its ability to slaughter the enemy unscrupulously and publicly are due to the superiority in the field of rare earth technology.
Adding rare earth metals or fluorides and silicides to steel can play a role in refining, desulfurizing, neutralizing low melting point harmful impurities, and improving steel processing Performance; rare earth ferrosilicon alloy and rare earth silicon-magnesium alloy are used as spheroidizing agents to produce rare earth ductile iron. Because this ductile iron is particularly suitable for the production of complex ductile iron parts with special requirements, it is widely used in automobile, tractor, diesel engine and other machinery manufacturing industries. ; Rare earth metals added to non-ferrous alloys such as magnesium, aluminum, copper, zinc, nickel, etc., can improve the physical and chemical properties of the alloy, and improve the mechanical properties of the alloy at room temperature and high temperature.
The molecular sieve catalyst made of rare earth has the advantages of high activity, good selectivity, and strong resistance to heavy metal poisoning, so it replaces aluminum silicate catalyst for petroleum Catalytic cracking process; in the synthetic ammonia production process, a small amount of rare earth nitrate is used as a co-catalyst, and its processing gas volume is 1.5 times larger than that of nickel-aluminum catalyst; in the process of synthesizing butadiene rubber and isoprene rubber, rare earth naphthenate-triisocyanate is used Butyl aluminum type catalyst, the product obtained has excellent performance, has the advantages of less equipment hanging, stable operation, short post-treatment process, etc.; composite rare earth oxide can also be used as a catalyst for exhaust gas purification of internal combustion engines, and cerium naphthenate can also be used as Paint driers, etc.
Rare earth oxides or processed rare earth concentrates can be widely used as polishing powder for optical glass, spectacle lenses, picture tubes, oscilloscope tubes, flat glass, Polishing of plastic and metal tableware; in the process of melting glass, cerium oxide can be used to have a strong oxidizing effect on iron, reducing the iron content in the glass to achieve the purpose of removing the green from the glass; adding rare earth oxides can Obtain optical glass and special glass for different purposes, including glass that can pass infrared rays, ultraviolet rays, acid and heat resistant glass, X-ray resistant glass, etc.; adding rare earths to ceramic glazes and enamels can reduce the glaze Fragility, and can make products show different colors and luster, is widely used in the ceramic industry.
The rare earth cobalt and neodymium, iron, boron permanent magnet materials have high remanence, high coercivity and high energy product, and are widely used in the electronics and aerospace industries ; Garnet-type ferrite single crystal and polycrystal formed by the combination of pure rare earth oxide and iron trioxide, which can be used in microwave and electronic industries; Yttrium aluminum garnet and neodymium glass made of high-purity neodymium oxide can be used as solid Laser materials; rare earth hexaborides can be used to make cathode materials for electron emission; lanthanum nickel metal is a newly developed hydrogen storage material in the 1970s; lanthanum chromate is a high-temperature thermoelectric material; in recent years, countries around the world have adopted barium, yttrium, copper, and oxygen elements to improve Superconducting materials made of barium-based oxides can obtain superconductors in the temperature zone of liquid nitrogen, making a breakthrough in the development of superconducting materials. In addition, rare earths are also widely used in lighting sources, projection TV phosphors, intensifying screen phosphors, tri-color phosphors, and copy lamp powders; in agriculture, the application of trace amounts of rare earth nitrate to field crops can increase its output by 5~ 10%; In the textile industry, rare earth chlorides are also widely used in fur tanning, fur dyeing, wool dyeing and carpet dyeing.
Research results show that rare earth elements can increase the chlorophyll content of plants, enhance photosynthesis, promote root development, and increase roots’ absorption of nutrients. Rare earth can also promote seed germination, increase seed germination rate, and promote seedling growth. In addition to the above main functions, it also has the ability to enhance disease resistance, cold resistance and drought resistance of certain crops. A large number of studies have also shown that the use of appropriate concentrations of rare earth elements can promote the absorption, transformation and utilization of nutrients by plants. Maize seed dressing with rare earths, the seedling emergence and jointing are 1 to 2 days earlier than the control, the plant height increases by 0.2 meters, the early maturity is 3 to 5 days, and the grain is full, which increases the yield by 14%. Soybean seed dressing with rare earths, emergence one day earlier, the number of pods per plant increases by 14.8-26.6, and the number of three pods increases, increasing the yield by 14.5%-20.0%. Spraying rare earths can increase the Vc content, total sugar content and sugar-acid ratio of apple and citrus fruits, and promote fruit coloring and early maturity. It can also inhibit the breathing intensity during storage and reduce the rate of decay.
my country is truly the largest rare earth resource country in the world, with proven rare earth resources of approximately 65.88 million tons. On June 20, 2012, the State Council Information Office released the white paper "China's Rare Earth Status and Policies". The document pointed out that my country has undertaken more than 90% of the world's market supply with 23% of rare earth resources. The rapid development of my country's rare earth industry has not only met the needs of domestic economic and social development, but also made important contributions to the global supply of rare earths. For a long time, my country has earnestly fulfilled its commitment to join the World Trade Organization, abide by the rules of the World Trade Organization, and promote fair trade in rare earths. my country's rare earth resources are not only rich in reserves, but also have the advantages of complete minerals and rare earth elements, reasonable rare earth grades and reasonable distribution of mineral points, which have laid a solid foundation for the development of my country's rare earth industry. China's rare earth resources have very favorable metallogenic conditions, complete types of deposits, wide distribution and relatively concentrated areas. At present, more than two-thirds of the country’s provinces (regions) have discovered thousands of deposits, ore sites and minerals in the work of geological sciences.化地. However, it is concentratedly distributed in Baiyun Obo in Inner Mongolia, southern Jiangxi, northern Guangdong, Guangdong, Sichuan Liangshan, and Shandong Weishan, forming a distribution pattern of north, south, west, and east, and the north is lighter than the south is heavy.
The rare earth resources in the United States mainly include bastnaesite, monazite and other minerals, which can be used as by-products to recover black rare gold ore, silicon beryllium yttrium ore and phosphorus. Yttrium ore. The Mountain Pass Mine in San Bedino County, California, is the world's largest single bastnaesite mine. It was discovered during the exploration of radioactive minerals in 1949. The rare earth grade is 5-10% REO and the reserves are 5 million tons. It is a large rare earth mine. Monazite has been mined in the United States for a long time, and the amount of placer mined is the Green Cove Springs Mine in Florida. The deposit is about 19km long, 1.2km wide, and 6m thick. Monazite is abundant. In addition, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Idaho and Montana also have placer deposits, and the reserves are also considerable.
The main deposits in India are placers. Monazite production in India began in 1911, with the largest deposits in Kerala, Madras and Orissa. The well-known mining area is the large deposit called Trafanco in Chavala and Manafanrakurich on the west coast of southern India. It supplied half of the world's ore from 1911 to 1945 and is still an important place of production. In 1958, during the exploration of uranium and thorium resources, a new monazite and ilmenite deposit was discovered on the Ranchi Plateau in the interior of Bihar State, with a huge scale. The monazite thorium content in India is as high as 8% ThO2. The heavy sand monazite collected in Manavan Lakulich accounts for 5 to 6%. Ilmenite accounts for 65%, rutile 3%, zircon 5 to 6%, and garnet 7 to 8%.
The former Soviet Union
The former Soviet Union has a large amount of rare earth reserves. The associated mineral deposits are located on the Kola Peninsula, and there are rare earth apatites in alkaline rocks. The main source of rare earths in the former Soviet Union is the recovery of rare earths from apatite ore. In addition, in apatite ore, the rare earth minerals that can be recovered are cerium-niobium perovskite, which contains 29-34% rare earths. In addition, there are bastnaesites in Hellebit and Sennell.
Australia is a major producer of monazite. Monazite is recycled as a by-product of the production of zircon, rutile and ilmenite. Australia's placer mines are mainly concentrated in the western region. Australia also produces xenotime. The rare earth resources that can be developed and utilized in Australia include the tailings of uranium mining in Mount Isa in central Queensland, and the Roxbur Downs copper and uranium gold deposits in South Australia.
Canada mainly by-produces rare earths from uranium mines. The uranium mine located in the Bryan River-Elit Lake area in Ontario is mainly composed of bituminous uranium, uranium ilmenite, monazite, and xenotime. Rare earths can also be mentioned when extracting uranium by wet method. In addition, the pyrochlore mine owned in the Orca region of Quebec is also a large potential resource of rare earths. There is also the Strunch Lake Mine in Newfoundland and Labrador, which also contains yttrium and heavy rare earths and is preparing for development.
South Africa is the most important monazite producer in Africa. The apatite mine in Stinkampskraal, Cape Province, is accompanied by monazite, which is the world's only single-vein-type monazite rare earth mine. In addition, there are rare earths in the beach sands of Chats Bay on the southeast coast, and monazite and bastnaesite are also associated with the Buffalo fluorite mine. The recycling is being planned and studied.
It mainly recovers rare earth minerals such as monazite, xenotime and niobium yttrium from the tailings of tin ore, which was once the world's main source of heavy rare earths and yttrium.
Egypt recovers monazite from ilmenite. The deposit is located in the Nile Delta region and belongs to a riverside sand mine. The source of the deposit is deposited from the weathered alluvial sand in the upper reaches. The monazite reserves are about 200,000 tons.
Brazil is the world's oldest country in the production of rare earths. It began exporting monazite to Germany in 1884 and was once famous all over the world. The monazite resources in Brazil are mainly concentrated on the eastern coast, from Rio de Janeiro to Fortaleza in the north, with a length of about 643km, with large deposits.
Domestic current situation
The Ministry of Commerce stated that China’s rare earth reserves can only last for 20 years. China’s rare earth reserves plummeted by 37% between 1996 and 2009, leaving only 27 million tons, which accounts for the world’s reserves 23% of the total. At the current production rate, my country's medium and heavy rare earth reserves can only last for 15 to 20 years, and may need to be imported. China is not the only country in the world that owns rare earths, but it has assumed the role of supplying most of the world's rare earths in the past few decades. As a result, it has paid the price of destroying its natural environment and consuming its own resources. Japan and South Korea action-investing a lot of money to bypass China to find rare earths Japan began to look around the world for rare earth supply sources that could replace China. Tokyo plans to invest 1.2 billion U.S. dollars to improve the supply of rare earths. Japan has reached an agreement with Mongolia Lightning to develop the country's rare earth resources from this month. South Korea, another major consumer of rare earths, has a similar plan. Earlier this month, South Korea announced that it would invest 15 million U.S. dollars to reserve 1,200 tons of rare earths by 2016. The Japanese media cheered for another major discovery-the rare earths in the Pacific Ocean have gone. According to foreign media reports, the online edition of the British "Nature-Earth Science" magazine published on the 3rd the research results of a research team led by Associate Professor Kato Yasuhiro of the University of Tokyo in Japan. The research result stated that the silt in the central Pacific Ocean about 8.8 million square kilometers, including Hawaii Island, and about 2.4 million square kilometers near Tahiti Island in the southeast, contains high concentrations of rare earths, and the entire exploitable amount is about land. 1000 times higher.
Rare earth is not a soil, it is an important strategic resource, especially an important raw material for high-tech industries, such as some precision strike weapons in military equipment, and some automotive parts. Components and high-tech products rely on components made of rare earth metals.
This rare strategic resource is mainly concentrated in China. Therefore, some Western media commented that when this precious resource was allocated, it was China that got the favor of God.
Li Gang, director of the European Department of the Institute of International Trade and Economics of the Ministry of Commerce, said: Our country’s industrial development in this area is still relatively fast. From the perspective of proven reserves and production capacity, it should be said. The family background is clearer.
Baogang Rare Earth: It has 57.38 million tons of rare earth resources, accounting for 62% of the world's rare earth reserves; the company's annual production capacity of rare earth products is about 54,000 tons. The company plans to store about 300,000 tons of rare earth gold mines in five years and about 80,000 tons of rare earth products in two years.
Guangsheng Nonferrous Metals: owns 7.13 million tons of rare earth resources and has an annual production capacity of nearly 20,000 tons; the company's rare earth smelting and separation capacity is 8,000 tons, ranking first in the same industry in the country.
CNMC: Invested in the construction of a 7,000-ton/year rare earth separation project in Xinfeng, Shaoguan, Guangdong (Xinfeng is an important production area of ion-based rare earth mines in China).
Xiamen Tungsten Industry: It has a reserve of 130,000 tons of rare earth resources and an annual production capacity of about 2,000 tons.
Minmetals Development: Owning the largest rare earth base in China, and establishing Minmetals Rare Earth in Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province Ganzhou), will integrate high-quality ionic rare earth resources and rare earth separation smelting enterprises in the surrounding areas of Ganzhou.
Jiangxi Copper: Major shareholder Jiangxi Copper Group has integrated the rare earth resources in Sichuan. The Mianning Yaniuping Rare Earth Mine in Sichuan has been acquired with proven reserves of nearly 2 million tons and the current storage capacity is 1.57 million tons.
China's rare earths
China is the only country that can provide all 17 rare earth metals, with reserves accounting for 23% of the world's total, making it a veritable "rare earth power". Japan, Europe and North America are its main markets.
However, China's rare earths, which has such a huge monopoly potential, have been sold for local prices for many years, and the pricing power has always been in the hands of countries such as Europe and the United States.
Cui Fan, an associate professor at the School of International Economics and Trade of the University of International Business and Economics, pointed out: For a long time, the international trade community has complained about the price of China selling rare earths. There is no coordination in various parts of the country, vying for export,