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Magnesium gains luster as electric cars take hold

Rare-earth metal may help battery makers turn up the juice and lighten the load

A magnesium smelter on the Dead Sea in Israel: Demand for the rare-earth metal is in growing demand for use in aluminum alloys and developing new batteries for electric cars.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Magnesium prices are rising due to tight supplies from China, by far the world's largest producer of the rare-earth metal, and brisk demand from the auto industry.

Magnesium is mainly used in alloys to strengthen aluminum. While demand for magnesium is growing as automakers work to make their cars lighter, it is also expected to be used in new types of batteries for electric vehicles. If the development of eco-cars proceeds as forecast, magnesium will likely continue to gain luster.

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