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Experts predict the development of rare-earth metals mining industry in South Africa

8 July 2013

Dr. Robin Harmer — Technical Consultant rare earth producer «Galileo Resources» — said in a recent statement at a conference of the Geological Society, that the South African mining of rare earth ore is not a difficult task. However, the expert considers that the separation of the raw materials to the final high concentration of products containing pure metals or their oxides — quite difficult problem for the sector producers. «Therefore, the issue of rare earth metals — is first and foremost, the problem of chemical engineering, not the problem of geological exploration or development» — concluded the representative of South African corporations.

Among other things, Mr. Harmer laid emphasis on the fact that the direction of the REM in the world is gaining relevance. «A smooth transition to cleaner energy sources and» green «consumer electronics devices, which use high power electromagnetic fields (and their work is only possible with a combination of several rare earth metals), contribute to the increase in demand for these resources," — said the expert.

Analysts predict the world markets, the demand for some «light» rare earth metals (eg, europium and neodymium) and some «heavy» rare-earth metals (for example, yttrium, dysprosium and terbium) will significantly exceed supply until at least 2020. It follows that the combination and concentration of these elements in the ores of various fields will have a significant impact on the profitability of the production of the resource and will play a decisive role in the success of any new mining and processing of rare earth ores. «The specificity of this market is the fact that natural and technological benefits of various rare earth elements is different, which explains why such a» run «in the world prices for each of them» — concluded in his speech expert «Galileo Resources».

To date, the undisputed leader, providing 95% of the global demand for rare earth metals, is China. However, the observed recent increase in domestic consumption in China rare earth elements on the background of the tightening of state control over the domestic market, as well as in the light of the strengthening of monitoring of compliance with environmental regulations and measures to combat the informal production and sale of rare-earth metals, will reduce the country's global market share of these resources. This, along with the steady increase in world prices, the market will enable operators to make a breakthrough in the development of enterprises for the production of rare earths in other countries, in particular — in South Africa.

At the same time, Dr. Harmer does not rule out that the subjects of the market of rare earth metals can expect unpleasant surprises in mind its complexity and unpredictability, is even more relevant in a period of stagnation of most major world economies.

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