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Bosch warning over rare earth scarcity

Germany – The recent slight drop in rare earth material prices needs to be treated with caution as the global economy gradually emerges from the downturn and demand increases for electric vehicles, according to a senior spokesman for automotive component producer Bosch.

Addressing the Automotive News Europe congress in the German city of Cologne, Bosch board member Peter Tyroller said added costs would begin to rise as world economies recovered. ‘Raw material prices are linked to economic growth,’ he said. ‘Currently, they are going down a little, but this will not continue as the economy recovers, especially Japan.’

He added: ‘When you think about electrification, demand is increasing heavily. China has reduced the export of rare materials by 9%. Today, China is supplying 99% of rare earth material and we need to be careful – we need to think about new concepts of how to treat raw materials. We need to recycle rare earth material – it is really necessary otherwise our dependency is getting too high.’

Having noted that Bosch operates 15 000 car service centres worldwide, Mr Tyroller continued: ‘We can use those and train them to take the old batteries out and recycle them. We are very well prepared to do this.’

In his presentation, Mr Tyroller also urged greater uptake of lithium-ion battery recycling. The speaker added that his company wants to be ‘a major player’ in battery recycling despite the fact that it is already a sector brimming with competition. ‘It will be a battlefield to be honest,’ he said. ‘Investment in battery technology is huge and there are not a lot of companies who can just burn money.’

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