It has the second-largest rare earth reserve on the planet
Turkey's Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Fatih Donmez, recently announced the discovery of the world's second-largest rare earth element reserve. Naturally, the CEO of every EV manufacturer on earth started drooling upon hearing the news. With ongoing supply chain issues being particularly hard on EV manufacturers, a discovery of this magnitude is big news.
The reserve is located in the Beylikova district of Eskisehir in central Anatolia. Beylikova is quite rural and is located roughly 240 miles from Turkey's central export hub in Istanbul.
Thankfully, the reserve is located close to the surface, so advanced mining operations are not needed. It will cost the Turkish government less to extract said elements, which it can then flog at a premium. But the kicker is how much there is, as the reserve can reportedly sustain the industry for decades to come.
"We will process 570,000 tonnes of ore annually. We will obtain 10 thousand tonnes of rare earth oxide from this processed ore. Also, again, 72 thousand tonnes of barite, 70 thousand tonnes of fluorite, and 250 tonnes of thorium, which I would like to underline especially. We are talking about an element, a mineral that will offer great opportunities and possibilities as a new fuel in new nuclear technologies." said Donmez.
According to Turkey's Energy and Natural Resources department, the pilot phase of the new mine will be completed within a year after initial research and development are conducted by various academics and engineers from Turkey's finest universities.
"We include the capacity to produce 600 tonnes of lithium annually into the system," said Donmez, and that's what the automotive industry is really interested in.
While it has yet to provide a complete list of the rare elements it will mine, Donmez stated that ten of the 17 elements currently classified as rare would be excavated.
EVs rely heavily on rare-earth elements, not only for the batteries but for the electric motors, many of which utilize rare earth magnets. At present, the most significant deposits are situated in China.
To get around this problem, manufacturers have implemented different strategies. GM partnered with a rare-earth mine in California to produce the new Hummer EV. GM's Ultium EV permanent magnet motors were also explicitly designed to use as few rare earth materials as possible.
The other strategy is recycling. Nissan is currently teamed-up with the Waseda University in Japan, testing a new process to recover rare earth materials from recycled EV motor magnets. Automakers are trying to avoid dealing with China, as it has a history of using its rare earth deposits as political leverage in the past.
If the Turkish government offers more amicable partnerships, China could lose a lot of business, and the EV industry could thrive.