In recent years, Chinese production has accounted for about 95% of the REE global market.
RENO (MINEWEB) – The U.S. Geological Survey has released a report, which supports scientific research to determine where undiscovered/undeveloped resources of rare-earth elements may occur, as well as trends in the supply and demand of rare-earth elements domestically and internationally.
Because of the many important uses of REEs, nations dependent on new technologies, such as Japan, the United States and members of the European Union, which now must rely on Chinese REE exports, are encouraging discoveries of economic REE deposits and bringing them into production, says the Geological Survey.
“Most REEs are not as rare as the group’s name suggests,” says the new report, The Rare Earth Elements—Vital to Modern Technologies and Lifestyles. “Cerium is the most abundant REE, and is more common in the Earth’s crust than copper or lead.”
“All of the REEs, except promethium, are more abundant on average in the Earth’s crust than silver, gold, or platinum. However, concentrated and economically minable deposits of REEs are unusual,” according to the Geological Survey.
During the Manhattan Project that created the nuclear bomb in the 1940s, scientists in the United States developed chemical ion exchange procedures that could separate and purify individual REEs.
In recent years, Chinese production has accounted for about 95% of the REE global market. China has restricted the supply of REEs through quotas, licenses, and taxes. “As a result, the REE industry outside of China increased REE stockpiling, explored for deposits in many locations, and promoted new efforts to conserve, recycle, and find substitutes for REEs,” says the report. “New mine production has begun in Australia (Mount Weld) and the United States (Mountain Pass, California).”
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