Special Materials Science & Engineering Seminar
Date: January 24, 2011 from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm EST
Location: Columbia University
Morningside Campus
S.W. Mudd, Room 214
Contact: For further information regarding this event, please contact APAM Department by sending email to seasinfo.apam@columbia.edu or by calling 212-854-4457.
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Taek-Soo Kim
Director of Korea Institute for Rare Metals,
Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH)

"Strategies for securing rare metals in Korea:
National cooperation for sustainable development"

Rare metals are defined as metals which are rare in the earth crust and also are difficult to extract from ores. In addition to the rarity, the mal-distribution of natural resources is a critical point in global materials flow. Even though the difficulties in accessibility to natural resources as similar with fossil fuels, requirements for total amounts of rare metals have increased as the global economics grows. Someone said that we are now in rare metal age through steel age. The importance for securing rare metals is different with circumference dependent of each countries. For Korea, rare metals are critical technology metals to sustain our economics and 35 species and 56 elements are classified into rare metals in Korea.

Suppression of supply but raise-up of demand make imbalance in market trades more serious. As a consequence, the prices of most rare metals have been markedly increased during last decade. More important thing is the shortage of natural resources within near future. For example, magnets made of rare earth elements are critical technology metals for solving energy crisis and also global warming. However, 97% of them are supplied by China. Under the monopolistic supply-chain, wind turbine manufacturers as well as automotive companies in the world depend on the allotments of Chinese government.

In Korea, our economics has rapidly grown up to have lots of cutting-edge industries such as semiconductors, displays, IT devices, automotives and so on by depending on imports of oversea resources because Korea does not have enough natural resources to satisfy the demanding of industries. Also industries of Korea are now in the transition stage to make sustainable society based on green technologies. Considering the changes of global environments in rare metals, we have made robust strategies which are composed of securing natural resources, making advanced materials and technologies, and developing alternative resources. Rarity but necessity of rare metals makes a paradox and many researches have been tried to solve the paradox such as reduction, replacement, and recycle of rare metals. There is a proverb "Two heads are better than one". As it goes, international cooperation for common and differentiated goals is very crucial to secure rare metals for our growing economics.

Host: I.C. Noyan