WASHINGTON D.C.: With U.S.-Sino relations becoming increasingly strained, automobile manufacturers in the western world are striving to lower their dependence on permanent magnets, which power electric-auto motors.
China-derived rare earths are used for making the majority of permanent magnets.
Despite the abundance of metals found in permanent magnets, the process of mining and separating rare earths is an arduous and environmentally-unfriendly process. China has emerged as a dominant power in producing permanent magnets.
Several automobile companies have, in recent years, sought ways to find a substitute for rare earths.
Currently, producers, constituting almost fifty percent of the worldwide sales, are restricting their usage, according to a survey conducted by Reuters.
Auto manufacturers have voiced concerns about both the difficulties in obtaining supplies of rare earth minerals, as well as massive fluctuations in pricing.
Rare earth-based magnets, composed chiefly of neodymium, are viewed as a highly effectual means of powering electric vehicles. China is known to hold a dominant presence, controlling some ninety percent of the world's rare earth production.
An over two-folds spike in the cost of neodymium oxide was recorded in the course of nine months in 2020, and pricing is still up by 90 percent.
Meanwhile, the United States Department of Commerce, in an announcement last month, commented on the repercussions of importing neodymium magnets on the country's security.