INDUSTRY BULLETIN: Highlights from the Magnetics 2014 Conference in Orlando January 29-31, 2014
In our ongoing efforts to provide you with broader communications and industry information, we are pleased to issue this Industry Bulletin which provides commentary on the annual Magnetics 2014 conference attended by over 125 people in Orlando on January 29-31, 2014.
Avalon’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Pierre Neatby, delivered the keynote address for the Magnetics 2014 conference. In his remarks, Mr. Neatby showed forecasts of increasing demand for rare earths used in magnets over the next few years, and showed that a shortage of heavy rare earths was forecasted starting in 2016. Mr. Neatby challenged the audience to actively support the establishment of a rare earth supply chain outside China to create jobs and ensure security of supply in the long term.
In his presentation entitled “Be Careful What You Wish For”, Ed Richardson, Vice President of Thomas & Skinner suggested that the World Trade Organization case against China could increase China’s monopoly over rare earths by increasing the quantity of rare earths available outside China, lowering prices and thereby negatively impacting non-Chinese rare earth producers such as Lynas and Molycorp.
Mr. Richardson also discussed the expiration in 2014 of a specific Hitachi patent on NdFeB (“Neo”) permanent magnets that could open the door for production of lower cost NdFeB magnets as no royalty would be due to Hitachi. The situation may not be that simple, as Hitachi has other patents that do not expire. The issue of the Hitachi patents has been discussed for years and several people at the conference had different opinions on the impact of the expiration in 2014 of the Hitachi patent.
In her presentation “Current Situation of NdFeB Magnets and Rare Earth Materials in China” Christiana Chen, founder of Magnetic Energy Corp., described the overcapacity and fragmented nature of NdFeB production in China with 300,000 tonnes per year of capacity divided amongst 200 companies, in a global market of only 120,000 tonnes per year. China produces 90% of the world’s NdFeB magnets, but also imports some high quality magnets from Japan.
Overall, there seemed to be continuing concern among the attendees at Magnetics 2014 about China as the dominant producer rare earth oxides and rare earth magnets. Many felt it was now time to begin to establish a rare earth magnet supply chain outside China.
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Avalon Rare Metals Inc. (TSX & NYSE MKT: AVL) is a mineral development company focused on rare metal deposits in Canada. Its 100%-owned Nechalacho Deposit, Thor Lake, NWT is exceptional in its large size and enrichment in the scarce 'heavy' rare earth elements, key to enabling advances in clean technology and other growing high-tech applications. With a positive feasibility study and environmental assessment completed, the Nechalacho Project remains the most advanced potential large new source of heavy rare earths in the world outside of China, currently the source of most of the world's supply. Avalon is adequately funded, has no debt and its work programs are progressing. Social responsibility and environmental stewardship are corporate cornerstones.