Considered a rare earth metal, cerium is silvery-white, ductile, and soft. It tarnishes when exposed to air and is soft enough to be cut with knife. Easily extracted from its ores, cerium is usually found in combination with other rare earth metals such as bastnaesite and monazite. Cerium also possesses unique stable state that does not oxidize with water. It is considered one of the most common lanthanides, followed by neodymium, praseodymium, and lanthanum. Cerium is available in abundance; it makes up to 66ppm of the earth’s crust. It is the 26th most abundant metal with abundance five times as much as lead and half as much as chlorine. Cerium was first discovered in 1803 in Sweden. It has been used in a variety of applications since then. Along with its compound, cerium is employed in numerous applications, including polishing glass and ferro-cerium lighters, owing to its pyrophoric properties. Cerium has no known biological roles. It has low toxicity level. It exhibits properties that are similar to that of calcium and gets accumulated in human body. Cerium is also found in plants (tobacco and barley) in small quantities.
Based on application, the market for cerium can be segmented into catalysts, ceramics, permanent magnets, glass polishing, glass additives, metal alloys, and others. The market for cerium is anticipated to witness strong growth during the forecast period owing to the increase in demand for rare earth metals in various end-user industries. Rise in exploration activities across the globe to extract cerium offers potential growth opportunities to the market. Recycling of cerium from electronic waste is expected to provide ample supply of this metal for reuse in various end-use industries including electrical and electronics and construction. In terms of application, glass polishing held significant share of the global cerium market in 2016. The segment is anticipated to witness strong growth during the forecast period. In polishing application, cerium has replaced other metals in the production of high-quality optical surfaces. It is also used to increase the photo stability of pigments and enhance the properties of polymers. Cerium prevents darkening of clear polymers from sunlight. The glass polishing segment was followed by the catalysts segment in 2016. Increase in usage of cerium in automotive application is estimated to drive the catalysts segment during the forecast period. Cerium is used as catalytic converter for the oxidation of emitted exhaust gases such as CO and NOx from automobiles. Despite the presence of numerous drivers, some factors are projected to restrain the cerium market during the forecast period. Fluctuation in prices of cerium owing to the inconsistent mining operation of cerium ores can act as a potential restraint of the market. Overdependence of cerium on China can hamper the global market for cerium during the forecast period.
Geographically, Asia Pacific held significant share of the global cerium market in 2016. The region is anticipated to continue its dominance during the forecast period. China accounted for key share of the cerium market in Asia Pacific in 2016 owing to the abundance of cerium in the country. Increase in demand for cerium in the electronics industry in Asia Pacific is one of the major factors augmenting the cerium market. In terms of volume, Asia Pacific was followed by North America and Europe in 2016. Increase in investments in exploration activities in North America is estimated to offer lucrative opportunities to the cerium market. This can decrease the dependency for this metal on China. Europe is a mature market for cerium. The market in the region is anticipated to witness moderate growth during the forecast period.
Key players operating in the market for cerium include Arafura Resources Ltd, CHINA MINMETALS RARE EARTH CO., LTD., AVALAON RARE METALS INC., and Alkane Resources Ltd.
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