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The demand is going to increase by 14% in 3 years. A key role will be played by WEEE recovery facilities.
They can be found in the electronic devices we use every day, and they are going to be increasingly easy to find: they are the earth rare elements, whose market is expected to increase by 14% from now to 2019, according to an American study by ReportsnReports. The demand will grow by 3.5% every year, for an amount of 149,500 tons in 2019 with a total value of 4.5 billion dollars. In terms of consumption, China occupies 63% of the marked (2014 data) and is expected to maintain its leading position for the next three years. This increase is due not only to electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets, the most sold products on the market, but also to the automotive sector.
In this perspective, recycling REE is essential. The recovery rate of these elements from waste electric and electronic equipment is constantly increasing, according to the analysis of ReportsnReports, and it is expected to contribute to the growth of the market in the period considered above.
Innovative recycling systems have been adopted by several countries, above all Germany, France and Japan, which have limited resources but high consumption rates. In this case, innovation is overdue, considering that today rare earth elements are also used for the production of wind plants, nickel-metal hydride batteries, and magnetic resonance equipment.
To date, about 250 companies worldwide are involved in rare earth element exploration and production activities. Most of these can be found in China, and to a lesser extent in U.S., Australia and Canada. The search for REE will be the new, frenetic gold rush of the third millennium, and the recycling sector will hopefully be able to mitigate its environmental and economic cost.