Rare earths are a group of chemical elements with unique magnetic, luminescent, and electrochemical properties.
They are key enablers for technologies looking to lower emissions, reduce energy consumption, as well as improve efficiency, performance, speed, durability, and thermal stability. They are also a key component in technologies that seek to make products lighter and smaller. There are 17 rare earth elements – 15 in the Lanthanide series and two additional elements which share similar chemical properties.
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Where are they found?
Minerals containing rare earths are currently produced in seven countries and regions including China, Russia, the US, Australia, India, Brazil, and Malaysia.
How are they used?
Rapid global industrialisation and population growth has placed increased pressure on the availability of raw materials. That is why Rare Earths, over the past five decades, have become a much sought after resource, particularly within the high-technology and low carbon industries.
How are they mined?
When mined, rare earths are high lustre metals which are typically silver, silver-white, or grey in colour. When exposed to the air they tarnish and form oxide compounds. Rare earths, when found in a large enough cluster, are actually a ‘cocktail’ of elements which have to be separated into individual elements before they can be used commercially.