The development of rare earth industry is really fast since about 1970s with the development of semiconductor industry, as rare earth materials are used widely in semi-conductor industry. As the global top supply country of rare earth materials, China started to mining and manufacturing of rare earth since 1970s. In about 20 years, rare earth from China had taken about 80% of global market. And since 1990s, the other top rare earth supplying country, like USA, Canada, Australia stopped manufacturing of rare earth. The price of rare earth dropped a lot since then as the result of competition between Chinese rare earth suppliers.
Now, the reserves of China's rare earth account for about 23% of the total world reserves, when the it used to be 80% at 1990s. In 2012, the annual production volume of China's rare earth accounted for over 85% of the total world production volume. The annual export of rare earth magnets didn't dropped a lot with export restriction of rare earth since 2012. The Chinese government is try to control the mining and manufacturing of rare earth, especially neodymium and samarium that is essential for many electronic products.
The rare earth permanent magnet materials are not only widely used in the civil products, such as clear energy automobiles, wind power generation, energy-saving household applicators and industrial motors, but also the important basic materials for the national defense cutting-edge technology application, such as electric interference and confrontation, precision guidance and positioning, aviation and aerospace etc. According to the indicators of the 12th-Five-Year Plan of the national Ministry of Science and Technology, China will invest more on development of end products taht use rare earth magnets instead of supplying raw rare earth materials.
But the mainstream demand in the future market will concentrate on the high-property neodymium-iron-boron permanent magnet materials. It is predicted that the annual average growth rate will reach 35% in the future five years. The demand for high-property neodymium-iron-boron permanent magnet materials will reach about 120,000 tons in the market by 2017.
By Danny Burns from Stanford Magnets, a top supplier of rare earth magnets.