Neodymium (Nd), an essential type of rare earth element, has attracted increasing attention in recent years due to its significant role in emerging technologies and its globally imbalanced demand and supply. Understanding the global and regional Nd stocks and flows would thus be important for understanding and mitigating potential supply risks. In this work, we applied a trade-linked multiregional material flow analysis to map the global and regional neodymium cycles from 1990 to 2020. We reveal increasingly complex trade patterns of Nd-containing products and a clearly dominant but slightly weakening role of China in the global Nd trade (for both raw materials and semi- and final products) along the life cycle in the last 30 years. A total of 880 kt Nd was mined accumulatively and flowed into the global socioeconomic system, mainly as NdFeB permanent magnets (79%) in semi-products and conventional vehicles and home appliances (together 48%) in final products. Approximately 64% (i.e., 563 kt Nd) of all the mined Nd globally were not recycled, indicating a largely untapped potential of recycling in securing Nd supply and an urgency to overcome the present technological and non-technical challenges. The global Nd cycle in the past three decades is characterized by different but complementary roles of different regions along the global Nd value chain: China dominates in the provision of raw materials and semi- and final products, Japan focuses on the manufacturing of magnets and electronics, and the United States and European Union show advantages in the vehicle industry. Anticipating increasing demand of Nd in emerging energy and transport technologies in the future, more coordinated efforts among different regions and increased recycling are urgently needed for ensuring both regional and global Nd supply and demand balance and a common green future.
|Tidsskrift||Environmental Science and Technology|
|Status||Udgivet - 16. aug. 2022|
Bibliografisk noteFunding Information:
This work was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71991484, 71991480), China Geological Survey (geological surveying project DD20221795), the Independent Research Fund Denmark (ReCAP), China Scholarship Council (202107940001, 202006730004), and the Villum Fonden through the Villum Center for the Science of Sustainable Fuels and Chemicals (V-SUSTAIN, grant 9455). We gratefully acknowledge research assistance from Lea Rupcic and Zhi Cao. B.S. is additionally supported by the EC H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action 2236 Co-Funded Brain Circulation Scheme 2 (CoCirculation2) of TÜBÍTAK (120C218), which has been funded under the FP7-PEOPLE-2011-COFUND call of the seventh Framework Programme.
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