Prices Of Rare-Earth Metals Fall After China Drops Export Tax

JUN 4 2015 BY MARK KANE 10

Nissan LEAF electric powertrain

Nissan LEAF electric powertrain

According to the Nikkei, international prices of rare-earth metals are going down a month after China dropped export tax on them.

That’s swell news for all manufacturers who need rare-earth metals in their products.

“Neodymium, found in high-performance magnets, is trading at about $66 per kilogram. Having dropped 20-30% from April, it is now at levels seen before a surge that began in 2010. Dysprosium is hovering around $350 per kilogram, also a five-year low.

After Sino-Japanese relations soured in 2010 over disputed islands, Beijing reduced export quotas, sending prices up sevenfold.

China accounts for 70-80% of the global rare-earth supply. But after losing a case in the World Trade Organization, Beijing dropped the quota system this year and eliminated export tariffs May 1.”

Among many applications, electric motors for hybrid and electric vehicles often use neodymium. For example, both the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt motors have rare-earth type magnets. Tesla is using an induction motor, which doesn’t need magnets.

Source: Nikkei

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10 Comments on "Prices Of Rare-Earth Metals Fall After China Drops Export Tax"

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David Murray
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David Murray

I’ve often wondered what the benefits are of using rare-earths in the drive motors, vs. not.

ModernMarvelFan
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ModernMarvelFan

REM motors are simpler and more powerful for a compact design. It is also potentially more efficient(very small difference already). It is also easier to control for torque and regen. But REM can’t handle shock or high heat.

Induction motors can match many of the performance of REM motors but would require more complex controller, especially for regen. But it can handle much higher power than traditional REM motor. Way cheaper to make…

Han
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Han

β€œ…both the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt motors have rare-earth type magnets. Tesla is using an induction motor, which doesn’t need magnets.”

Is induction motor superior performance-wise?

mr. M
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mr. M

I thought it is harder to controll or less efficient…

mr. M
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mr. M

See robb’s post πŸ˜‰

ModernMarvelFan
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ModernMarvelFan

Superior is a “subjective” term, not necessarily a technical term.

Volt has both induction motor and REM motor onboard… EV-1 had induction motor as well.

REM motors can produce higher torque for a given package/size for the same power/rating. Its controller are easier and regen is easy.

Induction motor can handle higher rpm and higher power application and potentially higher temperature as well. It is a lot cheaper to make.

For the same given power rating and size, the REM motors should be more efficient.

Jeff N
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Jeff N

The 2016 Volt still uses PM motors but the smaller motor now uses hard ferrite magnets instead of rare earth magnets. The larger motor uses advanced magnet manufacturing techniques to reduce the use of rare earth metals by about half by concentrating them along the edges and corners of the magnets where the rare earth metals are actually needed most.

Robb Stark
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Robb Stark

My understanding is the software management is much easier to write with rare earth permanent magnet motors.

Induction motors are cheaper but the software is more challenging to get smooth linear acceleration.

liuping
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liuping

I just Tesla got it right, because the Model S definitely has plenty of smooth linear acceleration πŸ˜‰

ModernMarvelFan
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ModernMarvelFan

It is interesting that China is actually fulfilling a WTO ruling.

Then again, it was a good thing anyway as the REM mines are some of the dirtiest in the world. With export tax, it actually elminated some of the dirtiest and small scale REM mines in China.

With technology items, it is always a demand/supply issue. If the price is higher than the market is willing to pay, new suppliers will come online or technology will switch path to the alternative.