Manufacturers, users and researchers of rare earth elements from around the world have combined forces to create a Rare Earth Technology Alliance (RETA), and among its first plan of action is to map out an education and outreach strategy to enable its members cope with the supply shortages currently enveloping users of rare earths.
The US government, through its Department of Energy, will allot some $120 million to fund the creation of a rare earths research facility that will aid the economic leader lessen if not totally cut off its dependence from China, the world's stronghold of the essential 17 precious elements.
Rare earths are 17 vital elements needed to manufacture and maintain the operational efficiency of a wide number of modern technologies, including those in consumer electronics, computing and networking, clean energy, advanced transportation, energy efficient lighting, health care, environmental mitigation, and national defense.
The new organization, whose members include Arnold Magnetic Technologies, Avalon Rare Metals, Boulder Wind Power, Colorado School of Mines, General Electric, Global Tungsten & Powders, Great Western Minerals Group, Iowa State University, Molycorp, Montana Tech, Quest Rare Minerals, Rare Element Resources, and Solvay (Rhodia), targets to be the leading voice for the rare earth industry and a central resource for information about this vital sector.
The international coalition of rare earth producers and processors, manufacturing companies and, academic and research leaders will be specifically dedicated to an education and outreach mission on rare earth elements and technologies.
"The rare earth industry will be facing many interesting challenges over the next few years, including growth of the markets, the creation of new supply chains, and the need for universities to develop technical and business leaders," Pierre Neatby of alliance member Avalon Rare Metals Inc., said in a statement.
The alliance "will help the industry meet its goals by achieving results that individual companies would have more difficulty achieving on their own."
RETA likewise aims to encourage the development of a healthy and competitive global market for rare earth elements.
The estimated size of the global rare earth sector is greater than $5 billion, according to RETA, with 120,000 - 130,000 tonnes of rare earth elements produced annually.
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