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  • 16-May-2012 01:25 EDT

The Supply of the Heavy Earth Metals and the demand for them by the Global OEM Automotive Industry

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There has recently been a great deal of hypothesizing and prognosticating about the security of supply of the rare earths for the non-Chinese OEM automotive industry. The pundits and industry analysts have warned of demand destruction by substitution driven by sustained high prices as well as due to supply interruptions. What has been overlooked for the most part is that the issue is not about all of the rare earths; it is just about some of them, the critical rare earths. And even in that category there are two separate issues: 1) Is there enough production of the light rare earth, neodymium, to sustain current demand and can its non-Chinese production grow to meet expected non-Chinese demand? and 2.) Is there even enough production of the heavy rare earths, dysprosium and terbium, to meet current Chinese demand and is it possible to produce dysprosium a.) Outside of China, and b.) In a finished form that could be used to manufacture under the hood rare earth permanent magnets outside of China? This presentation will bring the audience up to date on these issues, and will emphasize that the overwhelming majority of the OEM automotive industry demand for the rare earths critical to its products is, first and foremost, for the under the hood accessories of the powertrains of internal combustion powered vehicles, the next largest use is for the passenger cabin accessories for all vehicles, and last today is the demand from the under the hood powertrains of EVs and Hybrid Electric Vehicles. Assuming that the security and quantity of supply issues for dysprosium are resolved the growth of demand for products containing them will not depend just on the future growth of the market for EVs and HEVs, not at all.

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Jack Lifton, JACK LIFTON LLC

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