Global Rare Earth In-Use Stocks in NdFeB Permanent Magnets


Xiaoyue Du
Yale University, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
195 Prospect Street
New Haven, Connecticut 06511 USA


The rare earth elements are indispensible in modern technology, especially in the applications of permanent magnets. Very little quantitative information is available on rare earth elements used in permanent magnets, however. This study looks back to 1983, when neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) permanent magnets were first manufactured, and reaches to 2007, when the market of permanent magnets was well developed. We draw on the historical data on permanent magnets from China, Japan, the United States, and Europe to provide the first estimates of global in-use stocks for four rare earth elements—praseodymium (Pr), neodymium (Nd), terbium (Tb), and dysprosium (Dy)—in NdFeB permanent magnets. In-use stocks amount to 62.6 gigagrams (Gg) Nd, 15.7 Gg Pr, 15.7 Gg Dy, and 3.1 Gg Tb; these stocks, if efficiently recycled, could provide a valuable supplement to geological stocks as they are almost four times the 2007 annual extraction rate of the individual elements.