Understanding Rare Earths Supply Chains – a DOE Report

For supply chain managers interested in rare earth supply chains, a DOE report, available at  http://www.energy.gov/news/documents/criticalmaterialsstrategy.pdf provides a comprehensive summary. Currently, 97 % of the world’s rare earth metals are sourced from China. A few highlights of the report (a) Rare earth metals are abundant in the earth, the main constraint is the cost of recovery and the small market size.  In addition, approval of permits to mine rare earths in the US takes 7 to 10 years, while the process is completed in 1 to 2 years in Australia, (b) Often, R&D results in material substitution – the report highlights GE’s focus on reducing rhenium in jet engines and a blog (see earlier post) that summarizes Toyota’s efforts to eliminate rare earths from electric motors.  (c) Diplomatic collaboration to reduce individual nations and their interest in restricting supply and boosting national stockpiles using the WTO or other forums.  The report stresses that global supply chain managers may need to evolve a variety of skills to maintain steady supply. But how do we train managers to develop such skills ? Will these supply issues have to be resolved by individual companies or by trade groups or by government interventions or by collaborative teams ? More importantly, will national interests restrict the growth of alternate energy and thus slow down sustainability initiatives ?

About aviyer2010

Professor
This entry was posted in Collaboration, Global Contexts, Supply Chain Issues, Sustainability and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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