Turkey’s Discovery Of Rare Earth Minerals, Decades Of Supply For The Auto Sector And Others

Afiq Saha | 08-07-2022 10:00 AM

Equaling to the world’s largest in China, Turkey recently proclaimed that it has discovered a colossally sized rare earth reserve.

The find is said to be so significantly massive that on its own, could potentially satisfy global demands in several sectors for decades, the automotive industry being one of them.

Founded in Beylikova, Eskişehir, the rare earth minerals account up to a remarkable 694 million metric-ton (765 million short-ton).

For comparison, this makes Turkey's rare earths reserve the world's second-largest behind China, which has 800 million tons, according to AA Energy. 

Now, although the exact materials found in Turkey are unclear, yet this find relates to the automotive industry in a fairly weighted way. 

This is due to more than one-third of rare earth elements having current or potential applications in electrified vehicles.

Cerium has long been used in catalytic converters, but a long list of rare earths is rapidly growing in demand as the auto industry electrifies. 

Dysprosium, neodymium, and samarium are useful in permanent-magnet DC motors used in some EVs, while gadolinium has potential in both motors and batteries. 

While lithium-ion batteries are currently the automotive industry's gold standard, lanthanum and yttrium have their uses in alternative battery chemistries. 

Despite that, their questionable long-term supply, however, has bound BMW and others to leave rare earth minerals out of their current EVs.

Be it so, possibilities of the find in Turkey being a more stable and less China-dependent supply may make their use more palatable to other automakers.

That said, stated the Turkish minister of energy and natural resources, Fatih Dönmez, planning is in progress, and the building of processing infrastructure will begin in late 2022.

When the mining and refinement industries are up and running, Turkey anticipates it'll have the capability to process 570,000 metric tons of rare earths annually.

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