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The 5 Largest Rare Earth Mining Companies and What They Do

Introduction

Rare earth elements (REEs) refer to a group of 17 metals including neodymium, praseodymium, cerium and lanthanum. Though abundant globally, rare earths seldom occur in concentrated deposits, making extraction complex. Their unique magnetic, catalytic and metallurgical properties have deemed REEs essential to emerging technologies across defense, renewable energy, EVs, consumer electronics and more.

The rare earths market was valued at $14 billion in 2021. Driven by surging demand and supply chain risks, it is projected to reach $15.5 billion by 2030 expanding at 9% annually [1]. However, China dominates global production, mining over 140,000 metric tons yearly and refining up to 90% of rare earth metals worldwide [2]. This concentration of critical supply chains is propelling governments and corporations to urgently explore alternative sources.

This article profiles the 10 leading non-Chinese rare earth mining and materials companies. For each corporation, key business metrics, competitive positioning, and operational outlook is provided.

Surging Rare Earth Demand

Rare earths have become indispensable across defense, manufacturing, communications, transport and clean energy. By element, key demand drivers include [3]:

Neodymium – Permanent magnets, wind turbines, EVs
Praseodymium – Magnets, aviation systems, electronics
Lanthanum – Optics, battery alloys, camera lenses
Cerium – Catalytic converters, glass polishing
Samarium – Lasers, nuclear reactors, headphone magnets

Underpinning surging appetite is the essentiality of rare earths towards achieving global net zero emissions targets through enabling decarbonization technologies.

According to Adamas Intelligence, rare earth magnet demand could grow over six fold from $4 billion in 2020 to $27 billion by 2030 based on rising integration into offshore wind turbines and electric vehicles [4].

Global rare earth demand by end market 2020 2030 Forecast
Motors and generators $2.33B $9.67B
Glass polishing and ceramics $4.05B $5.44B
Auto catalysts $3.15B $4.86B
Magnets $4B $27B

However, with China controlling up to 90% of refined rare earth supply, acute concentration risks cloud the realization of secure and diverse global supply chains [5]. In response, governments are enacting policies to re-shore strategic rare earths processing while both incumbent and emerging corporations maneuver to elevated positions within the competitive landscape.

1. Lynas Rare Earths

Headquartered in Sydney, Lynas Rare Earths Ltd operates the richest known deposit of rare earths at its Mount Weld mine in Western Australia. With a market cap of $8.93 billion, Lynas is the largest non-Chinese REE mining and processing company globally [6].

In FY2022, Lynas produced 10,500 tons of rare earth oxides, posting record revenues of $559 million. The miner is investing $500 million through 2025 to increase neodymium and praseodymium output by 60% [7]. Lynas‘ customer base spans leading technology, defense, and automotive enterprises including BASF, Siemens, Honeywell and General Motors.

Positioned cost-competitively courtesy of its high-grade deposits, Lynas supplies approximately 25% of global rare earths demand excluding China. The company operates advanced separation facilities in Malaysia refining ore into commercial rare earth compounds. Lynas is additionally constructing a U.S based HRE separation facility scheduled for 2025 under a $120 million Department of Defense contract.

2. MP Materials

The sole American rare earth miner, MP Materials (MP) operates the Mountain Pass mine in California‘s Mojave desert. Acquired out of bankruptcy in 2017, MP has invested significantly in rebuilding U.S domestic rare earth processing.

Producing over 15% of global rare earth content, MP Materials separates bastnaesite ore into cerium, lanthanum and neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) oxide. It posted 2021 revenues of $331 million and net income of $135 million.

MP supplies key defense contractors and the Department of Defense. It has also locked in supply agreements with clean energy producers and General Motors supporting domestic EV manufacturing.

The company is completing a Stage II separation facility doubling its NdPr capacity. Slated for operations in early 2023, Stage II will position MP to provide full end-to-end domestic rare earth processing.

3. Neo Performance Materials

Headquartered in Toronto, Neo Performance Materials began as a silica company in 1977. Today, itrefine rare earths, gallium, indium, rhenium, tantalum and other technology metals essential to next-generation vehicles, communications infrastructure and defense systems.

With 2021 revenues of $494 million and EBITDA of $110 million, Neo Performance Materials runs 11 plants across Asia, Europe and North America – including the only rare earth separations facility in Europe. Its engineered magnetic powders hold a leading industry market share for bonded magnets while its zircon and beryllium products support a range of industrial uses.

The company‘s niche positioning across technology and defense supply chains spans an impressive blue-chip customer base – from Lockheed Martin to Volkswagen.

4. Iluka Resources

Perth-based Iluka Resources is Australia‘s largest mineral sands producer and a growing player in rare earth elements like monazite. Core operations center on onsite mining and processing of titanium dioxide and zircon rich deposits.

In the first half of 2022, Iluka generated over $950 million in mineral sands revenue including 188,00 tons sold of high grade titanium dioxide products [8]. The company is actively developing its REE production capabilities as a secondary revenue stream.

A recent $489 million acquisition of Sierra Rutile bolsters Iluka as the leading global supplier of natural rutile. The company is additionally advancing a pre-feasibility study into monazite refining from historic waste streams in Western Australia. If realized, this project alone could position Iluka to supply 5% of global rare earth oxide demand by mid-decade [9].

5. Energy Fuels

Utah‘s Energy Fuels Resources is the largest uranium miner in the United States. In recent years it has expanded into rare earth processing and magnet recycling. The company plans to provide 25% of U.S rare earths demand excluding China by 2026.

In 2021, Energy Fuels earned $15.2 in revenue across rare earth advanced materials, uranium and vanadium production. The company has additionally inked MOUs with leading rare earth engineers Nanoscale Powders and Neo Performance Materials under a grant from the U.S Department of Energy.

Energy Fuels primary objective is establishing an integrated, domestic supply chain for commercial rare earth alloy and magnet manufacturing. Its White Mesa Mill – the only facility in North America licensed to process specialized rare earth feedstocks like monazite sands – is currently producing commercial REE concentrates from monazite sources globally.

6. Rainbow Rare Earths

Headquartered in Guernsey, Rainbow Rare Earths commenced production in 2017 at Africa‘s first major rare earth mine in decades. The company operates the high-grade Gakara mine in Burundi at one of the world‘s highest known in-situ grades of rare earths.

In 2022, Rainbow delivered record production of 10,457 metric tonnes and record revenue of $7.9 million. Using a low cost, modular processing model, the company targets further increases in neodymium and praseodymium yields feeding electric vehicle and clean energy demand in Europe and Asia.

Rainbow is additionally exploring opportunities to convert gypsum stacks from phosphoric acid production into rare earth oxides. Coupled with its existing high-grade deposits, such a project could position Rainbow as a globally cost-competitive producer.

7. Tantalus Rare Earths

Germany‘s Tantalus Rare Earths operates the Madagascar based Tantalite Valley mine producing tantalum, lithium and tin mineral concentrates. In 2021, the company delivered revenues of €2 million from first tantalite production.

However, of growing interest is Tantalus‘ secondary monazite ore stream containing rare earth phosphate minerals. With elevated grades of magnet metals neodymium and praseodymium, this stockpile may support Tantalus‘ ambitions to become a vertically integrated mine-to-magnet European rare earths supplier.

The company has already signed an MOU with German manufacturer Vacuumschmelze (VAC) to assess development of a European rare earth alloy and magnet value chain. Coupled with its existing stockpiles and strategic geography, Tantalus aims to provide the regional market cost effective and sustainable rare earth permanent magnets.

8. Medallion Resources

Vancouver-based Medallion Resources is advancing proprietary process technology dubbed "REE Intercept" seeking to extract rare earth elements from mineral sand monazite. This abundant phosphate mineral sources sought after heavy rare earths like terbium and dysprosium along with light REEs vital to technology manufacturing.

However, unlike existing refiners, Medallion is focused exclusively on processing mineral sand monazite. This allows specialization on cost optimizing recovery of the most in-demand rare earths. Medallion is currently searching North America and Europe for monazite feedstock sources to deploy its processing technology commercially.

The company has additionally partnered with French giant ERAMET to assess the efficacy of applying its patented process on ERAMET‘s monazite byproduct stream. A successful smaller-scale demonstration facility could lead to full-scale commercialization across North American and European processing sites.

9. TechMet Limited

Though not a miner, industrial metals processing group TechMet caters to burgeoning demand across defense, automotive and battery markets. Headquartered in Singapore, the company specializes in producing rare earth metals, cobalt and lithium iron phosphate.

TechMet directly supplies electric vehicle and nanotechnology innovators globally with vital magnet and cathode inputs. The company earned revenues of $59 million in FY2021 from the competitive sourcing, processing and delivery of technology metals.

Looking forward, TechMet is actively targeting opportunities across regions and technologies supporting sustainable, closed loop rare earth and battery material lifecycles.

10. Geomega Resources

With a pilot rare earth refinery in Quebec, Canada‘s Geomega Resources focuses on minimizing the environmental footprint of rare earth processing. The emerging miner recycles local mine waste to extract high purity rare earth oxides and specialized magnet alloys.

Leveraging proprietary separation technology, Geomega produced its first batch of rare earth carbonate in March 2022. It has additionally secured government funding towards scaling operations to supply EV and renewable energy manufacturers.

Uniquely, the company has pioneered ESG frameworks upholding site rehabilitation, carbon neutrality and community engagement. Its closed loop model offers a sustainable template for restoring economic potential from inactive mines while catalyzing clean energy supply chains.

Industry Trends and Market Outlook

China controls up to 90% of rare earth refining globally, though it holds just 44% of proven reserves [10]. Concentrated supply chains raise serious vulnerability concerns given increasing rare earth significance on economic and defense fronts. In response, governments are targeting legislation, funding and public-private partnerships to rapidly expand domestic refining capacity and expertise.

The inflation Reduction Act, providing tax credits for electrification metals processing, signals America‘s intent to regionalize strategic mineral supply chains. Concurrently, Europe‘s Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials aims to build resilience through advancing domestic mining capability and forging trading partnerships globally.

With Lynas Rare Earth‘s Malaysian processing plant‘s future threatened by local politics, and MP Materials‘ Mountain Pass mine languishing following Chinese competition last decade, realizing secure rare earths production necessitates spreading processing infrastructure across varied political geographies.

Fortunately, North America holds an estimated 14 million tons in rare earth reserves and resources while Australia boasts 2.8 million tons [11]. Coupled with surging corporate activity, strategic partnerships and sustained technology innovation, foundations are firming to diversify global rare earth supply chains.

According to Statista, the rare earth elements market will exhibit 9% annual growth reaching $15.5 billion in value by 2030 [1]. While intense demand appears locked in courtesy of global mega-trends in EVs, digitization and clean energy, balancing supply chain resilience alongside accessibility and ethics remains imperative to assure the realization of high-technology futures.

References

[1] Statista – Rare Earth Metals Global Market Value
[2] Reuters.com – EU-US partnership on rare earth magnets likely next year
[3] American Resources Policy Network – Rare Earth Elements: The Global Supply Chain
[4] Mining.com – Mining rare earth elements for renewable energy – it’s complicated
[5] CNBC – Elon Musk: This is the ‘biggest constraint for ramping extreme EV volume’
[6] Lynasrareearths.com – ASX Announcement Record Financial Year 2022 Results
[7] Lynasrareearths.com – ASX Announcement A Compelling Growth Company
[8] Iluka Resources – Rare earth elements potential confirmed
[9] Paydirts most innovative companies 2022
[10] CNBC – China dominates the rare earths industry these countries are trying to change that
[11] Geoscience Australia: Australia’s Rare Earth Resources