Rare earth elements: Deposits, uncertainties and wasted opportunities

Simon Jowitt, Zhehan Weng, Gavin Mudd

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticleOther

7 Citations (Scopus)


Advances in the technological uses of rare earth elements (REE) has led to a significant increase in demand for these metals. Denoting the lanthanide element series plus scandium (Sc) and yttrium (Y), REEs are generally split into the light and the heavy rare earth elements, or LREEs and HREEs. One of the main issues with REE supply is processing. High-tech end uses mean that the majority of demand is for high-purity single REEs, hence processing of ores does not simply mean concentrating ore minerals, but instead selectively removing these elements from their host minerals and concentrating each one individually. Geoscience Australia estimates that this deposit contains around 53Mt of REO, none of which are currently extracted but are worth more than one trillion Australian dollars. It is not yet clear whether it will be possible to extract the huge REE resource at Olympic Dam via extraction from tailings and by-products of mineral processing, or if these resources will be permanently rendered inaccessible and unprocessable.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages3
Specialist publicationMaterials World
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

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