Rare Earth Elements
Rare earth elements can be found in mineral sands deposits. These rare earth elements can be used in an expanding range of high technology consumer goods and low carbon technologies, most notably wind energy turbines and electric vehicles. Medical science, manufacturing, electronics and renewable energy generation all utilise rare earth elements. Consumer and other applications in which rare earth elements are needed include smart phones, computers, x-ray machines, medical lasers, plastics, catalytic converters, fibre optics, rechargeable batteries, hybrid cars and wind turbines.
Rare-earth elements comprise the fifteen lanthanide series of elements (lanthanum (la), cerium (Ce), praseodymium (Pr), neodymium (nd), promethium (Pm), samarium (Sm), europium (Eu), gadolinium (Gd), terbium (Tb), dysprosium (Dy), holmium (Ho), erbium (Er), thulium (Tm), ytterbium (Yb) and lutetium (lu) as well as yttrium (Y). Scandium (Sc) is also commonly included in the rare-earth elements grouping.
Variously referred to as ‘rare-earth metals’, ‘rare-earths’, ‘rare-earth oxides’, and ‘total rare- earth oxides (TREO)’, rare-earth elements have unique catalytic, metallurgical, nuclear, electrical, magnetic and luminescent properties.
The lanthanide series of elements can be further subdivided into light rare-earth elements and heavy rare-earth elements. light rare-earth elements are generally more abundant and less valuable than the heavy rare-earth elements. The major physical
Demand for rare-earth elements has historically been met by a relatively small number of producers and mines. In 1992, China surpassed the United States as the world’s largest producer of rare-earth oxides. And since the mid-1990s, China has dominated the global supply of rare- earth elements. Most production is derived from the very large Bayan Obo iron–niobium–rare- earth elements deposit in Inner Mongolia, China, and from lateritic clays in southern China.
Source: ATIC, Geoscience Australia, Australian Critical Minerals Prospectus 2020