Japan’s Rare Earth Consumption Dropped 9% in 2020

Mar. 31, 2021

Yttrium the only rare earth to see increased demand

In 2020, Japan consumed 17,400 tonnes of rare earth oxides (and oxide equivalents), a 9% drop year-over-year, according to official Japanese industry sources.

NdFeB production down 8% year-over-year

In 2020, total production of NdFeB alloys totaled 12,400 tonnes, 8% lower than the year prior but 900 tonnes higher than we forecasted last year.

This drop was attributed to weak passenger vehicle production and sales through the first half of 2020, translating to a drop in demand for magnets used in micromotors, sensors and loudspeakers, in line with our earlier forecasts.

At the other end of the spectrum, demand for magnets in hard disk drives and consumer electronics remained strong throughout the year on account of a surge in laptop, tablet and other device sales resulting from millions of employees and students working from home, mirroring our earlier forecasts.

Phosphor consumption down for lighting, up for backlighting

In 2020, Japan’s production of fluorescent lamps fell by around 17% year-over-year owing to ongoing substitution by LED lamps, which contain an order of magnitude less rare earth material per light source, translating to a drop in demand for yttrium, cerium, lanthanum, terbium and europium for general lighting applications.

However, in 2020, Japan’s production of flat panel televisions increased by 11% year-over-year, translating to a boost in demand for LED backlights and thereby a boost in demand for yttrium.

Exhaust gas catalyst consumption down on weak vehicle sales

In 2020, Japan’s production of exhaust gas catalysts (cerium-rich washcoats used in the catalytic converters of gasoline-burning vehicles) fell 14% year-over year owing to a similar drop in global passenger vehicle sales.

Notably, however, passenger vehicle sales recovered strongly in Q4 2020, translating to a year-over-year jump in catalyst production and sales for the period.

Polishing powder and abrasive consumption up on strong electronics market

In 2020, Japan’s consumption of cerium-rich polishing powders and abrasives increased by an estimated 10% year-over-year owing to a boost in demand for LCD substrates and HDD platters stemming from a spike in the number of employees and students working from home.

Ceramic capacitor consumption also way up on strong electronics market

Similarly, in 2020, Japan’s production of ceramic capacitors (used widely in consumer gadgets, communications equipment and automobile electronics) increased by an industry-reported 36% year-over-year to a whopping 12.5 billion units, driven by a surge in work-from-home-related electronics demand coupled with a global rise in production and sales of electric vehicles.


More Information: Rare Earth Magnet Market Outlook to 2030

In this report, we provide a detailed overview of the global NdFeB alloy, powder, magnet and magnet rare earth markets, including a historical breakdown of production, consumption, prices and inventory levels from 2015 through 2019. Next, we unravel the anticipated near-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on world markets and forecast global supply, demand and prices from 2020 through 2030.

After growing at a CAGR of 6.4% from 2015 through 2019, Adamas Intelligence forecasts that global consumption of NdFeB alloys and powders will drop by 9.3% in 2020 on account of the ongoing negative effects of COVID-19 on demand for everything from electric vehicle traction motors to automotive micromotors, wind power generators, consumer appliances, cordless powertools and dozens of other end-uses and applications.

However, with the ongoing re-opening of key demand markets in Asia, Europe and North America through the end of 2020 and into 2021, we expect demand for most end-uses and applications of NdFeB magnets to rebound strongly in 2021 and 2022 and thereafter rise steadily through the end of the decade and beyond.

Overall, we forecast that global demand for NdFeB alloys and powders will increase at a CAGR of 9.7% from 2020 through 2030 translating to comparable demand growth for the magnet rare earths (i.e. neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium) these alloys and powders contain. Over the same period, we forecast that global production of magnet rare earth oxides will collectively increase at a slower CAGR of 7.1% from 2020 through 2030 as the supply side of the market struggles to keep up with rapidly growing demand.

Among the findings of our analysis:

Market for Magnet Rare Earth Oxides to Increase Five-Fold by 2030: With total magnet rare earth oxide demand forecasted to increase at a CAGR of 9.7% and prices projected to increase at CAGRs of 5.6% to 9.9% over the same period, Adamas Intelligence forecasts that the value of global magnet rare earth oxide consumption will rise five-fold by 2030, from US $2.98 billion this year to US $15.65 billion at the end of the decade.

Annual NdFeB Shortages of 48,000 Tonnes Expected by 2030: Constrained by an expected under-supply of neodymium, praseodymium and dysprosium oxide from 2022 onward, Adamas Intelligence forecasts that global shortages of NdFeB alloy and powder will amount to 48,000 tonnes annually by 2030 – roughly the amount needed for some 25 to 30 million electric vehicle traction motors.

Annual NdPr Oxide Shortages of 16,000 Tonnes Expected by 2030: Constrained by a lack of new primary and secondary supply sources from 2022 onward, Adamas Intelligence forecasts that global shortages of neodymium, praseodymium and didymium oxide (or oxide equivalent) will collectively rise to 16,000 tonnes in 2030, an amount equal to roughly three-times Lynas Corporation’s annual output, or three-times MP Materials’ annual output, of neodymium and praseodymium oxide (or oxide equivalents).


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