As a follow up to this morning’s post, I wanted to leave you with a couple of informative links regarding rare earth metals.
First, Mining IQ presents 11 things you should know about Rare Earths and Strategic Metals
- Rare earth elements change through time in small quantities (ppm, parts per million), so their proportion can be used for geochronology and dating fossils
- Rare earth cerium is actually the 25th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, having 68 parts per million (about as common as copper)
- If it weren’t for rare earth elements, a collection of seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table that are generally found together in ore deposits, the world as we know it today would look a whole lot different. Rare earth elements are used in iPods, GPS navigation systems and plasma televisions; a single Toyota Prius uses 25 pounds…
- Pure lutetium metal is very difficult to prepare. It is one of the rarest and most expensive of the rare earth metals with the price about US$10,000 per kilogram
- Rare earth was first found by a Finnish scientist Gadolin in 1794 and he named it Rare Earth
- China holds 55Mt (48.2%) of the world’s economic reserves for REO, followed by the Commonwealth of Independent States with 19Mt (16.7%) REO and the USA with 13Mt (11.4%)11. Australia’s EDR accounts for 1.82% of world’s economic reserves with 2.07Mt REO
- So why are they called “rare” earths? The name alludes to their elusive nature, since the 17 elements rarely exist in pure form. Instead, they mix diffusely with other minerals underground, making them costly to extract
- Mining and refining rare earths is a costly venture, leaving most countries to leave their own reserves undeveloped, even as worldwide demand rises. However, deposits are being found in countries like Australia, Canada, Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka and it will eventually become a necessity for mining operations to begin, in order to supply the demands of this technically oriented world
- The extraction and, in particular, the processing of rare earth ore is extremely capital-intensive, ranging from $100 million to $1 billion of capital expenditure
- The estimated financial investment needed just to prove the resource (e.g., exploration and drilling) can be up to $50 million
- Cost of production capacity can range from $15,000 to $40,000 per tonne of annual capacity
Meanwhile, at the Good website, Adela Peters presents an infographic: Why Rare Earth Elements Matter, and Why It’s Important to Recycle That Old Cell Phone
Here’s an infographic explaining how rare earth elements are used in everything from electronics to clean tech. We need to better design products so these materials can be recovered, and design better systems to get people recycling more often (and keeping their devices longer).