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The current situation in the REE industry is constantly subject to changes. Nevertheless, active rare earth mines and exploration projects are mentioned in this article as well as some more significant resources all over the world Figure 3. In South Africa Zandkopsdrift is estimated to be one of the largest REE resources outside of China and the owner company filed a prefeasibility study in In Canada, the Hoidas Lake project has advanced to prefeasibility, while Avalon — who is running the Nechalacho HREE project in Thor Lake — announced that the expenditures for this project will remain minimal in and the company will focus on other projects.

Nolans Bore is another significant mining project in Australia that plans to enter production in Finally, Greenland holds some interesting exploration projects: Kvanefjeld and Motzfeldt, which are both in early exploration stage. Similar to other commodities covered only by the junior exploration and mining domain, the spike in REE prices in did not solve the supply problem.

The REE market will remain small — and market analysts need to focus on the particular boundary conditions that govern the REE industry and which can determine the mineability of any REE deposit. In , when China was found to violate international trade rules, the WTO was asked to intervene.

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However, the WTO did not resolve this conflict in a timely manner. It was when a decision was finally made and China was forced to compromise. The time and trade lost during mediation of this dispute contributed to the intensity of the crisis and price spike. Such issues call for the need to quicken the decision-making procedures in international trade disputes.

Moreover, long-term agreements and the establishment of a REE stock exchange, which would set prices in a transparent manner, may be required and are being demanded by an increasing number of REE importing parties European Commission, But even if prices were to remain stable, the balance problem of REEs should be carefully assessed Binnemans et al, If the REEs in higher demand have a lower abundance within a particular deposit, the minimum quantity that needs to be mined, processed and separated must be at least the amount required for critical applications as defined by the consumer market.

As a consequence, elements of higher abundance and lower criticality will be produced in larger than required quantities and due to the surpluses they will have to be stockpiled, thus increasing the costs of mining, processing and storing. This is the main reason why the Mountain Pass project seems to have failed despite high expectations. A global diversification of the rare earth resources with respect to the demand and supply of the individual REEs may address such supply balance issues. REEs may possibly also be extracted from alternative sources, such as industrial wastes, and by recycling end-of-life REE-bearing products such as consumer products or lighting.

Substitution especially of the less common REEs is another important option. An entirely different but equally relevant issue concerns the environmental impact of REE mining and beneficiation. Of particular concern is the common association of REE with thorium and uranium and thus the need to strictly control the dispersion of radioactive elements into the environment Barakos et al, This pertains in particular to the treatment and disposal of tailings.


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Rather lax legislation in China has resulted in significant pollution, especially related to illegal mining Kiggins, The arguments against the LAMP facilities in Malaysia show that people are already prejudiced against REE mining development and processing, despite the fact that the public engagement experience on this industry sector is limited outside of China Ali, In some cases, however, an abundance of thorium and uranium may have a positive impact on the feasibility of a REE deposit, since both may be exploited as by-products.

A few separation plants are settled in the Western world, such as the Molycorp facilities in Estonia and the Rhodia plant in France. However, there are numerous current research and development projects that focus on the development of extraction and separation technologies that are resource-and energy-efficient as well as environmentally benign.

Rare Earths Industry

At the end of the day, extraction and primary beneficiation of REEs are likely the easy steps to take. But rare earth oxides or carbonates are still useless to original equipment manufacturers. Such companies are not equipped to convert them into metals, alloys, and magnets. What is needed to supply end customers in the Western world is a complete value chain, from mining to manufacturing. China is currently the only country that has developed this complete value chain — comprising of hundreds of independent companies dedicated to rare earth research and production, each providing highly differentiated technologies, processing, formulation, or component-specific applications.

Ali S H, European Commission, Humphries M, Kennedy J, Kiggings R D, Massari S and Ruberti M, Roskill, Rare earths: Market outlook to , 15th Edition, Roskill, London. Stanway D, United States Geological Survey, Zepf V, Toggle navigation. However, in the works published so far, in general the approach is not seen in a more comprehensive way in the analysis of the competitiveness of these industries. That is, none of these competitiveness analyses considered until then the technical, economic, and economic political, logistics at the same time and in a qualitative and quantitative way.

Thus, this article introduces the most comprehensive and innovative method of competitiveness analysis for the rare earth sector. The analysis takes into account the relations of mutual influence between each factor of competitiveness considered the most important , viewing their importance in promoting the competitiveness of a mining enterprise. The REE production process variables considered in this methodology are those related from the mining stages to the separation stage of the individual rare earth oxides steps 1 to 4, as shown in Fig.

Rare Earths Industry : Technological, Economic, and Environmental Implications

This means that the variables of the refining step and subsequent steps will not be considered as shown in Fig. A simplified example of the main steps in the REE supply chain that were considered in the analysis and competitiveness. The commercialization of products from the deposits: rare earth oxides will be produced as the main product rare earth projects , and other metals belonging to the same deposit may be used as by-products of the RE mining; however, the expected revenue from these by-products will not be considered in the application of the model;.

Access to the mineral asset: there are no impediments to access the deposit, either due to restrictions from environmental legislation protection area , indigenous area or disputed land reclamation, tourist interest area and high yield agricultural area, etc. The method of calculation the level of competitiveness, takes into account the six categories of most relevant competitiveness factors in the rare earth production process described in sub-item 2.

The sub-variables considered in this factor are:. The sub-variables considered in this Factor are:. Where each factor will score ranging from 0 to While useful for measuring the attractiveness of a jurisdiction, based on political factors such as costly regulations, taxation levels, quality of infrastructure, and others, the Policy Perception Index PPI alone does not recognize the fact that investment decisions are often made purely based on the technical and economic factors of mineral deposits.

Since the first publications released more than 15 years ago by the Fraser Institute, the majority of the respondents had indicated that approximately 40 percent of investment decisions are determined by political factors. Thus, the Political Perception factors alone do not recognize the fact that investment decisions are often made purely on mineral potential.

Rare Earths Industry: Technological, Economic, And Environmental Implications

Thus, the technical and economic factors are weighted with 0. The survey included jurisdictions from all continents except Antarctica. As a basis and subsidy of Takehara and Petter works, the selected deposits for simulation and case study Brazil BR were:. This is the Mountain Pass Project USA , which filed for judicial recovery in and that, according to some market experts, was affected by the fall in the prices of rare-earth basket relatively low value of factor 1-F VPD , and the company's growing indebtedness, even having relatively high values in the other political-conjunctural factors F PPEG and F PCLG.

It is also worth noting the D2-TM This is the Mount Weld CLD - AUS project, in full operation, and bravely supporting the fluctuations of prices and market uncertainties, being thus quite resilient. However, this article only analyzed the main results of this methodology. More information in Table A2 Appendix A.

In the case of Brazil, the best ranking obtained by the D2-BR However, this project was included in the analysis for being the most advanced in Brazil regarding the use of rare earths. However, D1-BR showed the same relatively low performance in conjunctural factors, similar to D2-BR, logically because they belong to the same jurisdiction Brazil. Thus, the results portray the situation in a given period in the case of this article, the base year was , and may thus suffer variations over time.

P PQLG was not performed. Despite the lack of many details of the analysis, it was clear that the factors described in this paper have a great influence on the competitiveness of the RE projects in development. Therefore, due importance should be given to these key factors. The future works may focus on the dynamics of the factors, related to prices, operating costs and factors of short-term perceptions. Since everything changes at any moment, so the mechanism of analysis of competitiveness must follows this dynamics. A way of doing this is the use of simulations of different scenarios, and here is one more suggestion.

However, we believe that with this work we make a beautiful contribution to the rare earth sector and we add a new methodology of analysis of competitiveness in the mining, to the several existent in the literature. Gustavo A. Silva: Conceived and designed the experiments; Performed the experiments; Wrote the paper.

Carlos Petter, Nelson Albuquerque: Conceived and designed the experiments; Performed the experiments; Analyzed and interpreted the data; Contributed reagents, materials, analysis tools or data. This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. The following are the supplementary data related to this article:.

List of 53 advanced rare earth projects 58 rare earth mineral resources belonging to 49 companies in 16 countries. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Heliyon v. Published online Mar Petter , b and Nelson R. Albuquerque c. Carlos O. Nelson R.

Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Silva: rb.

Rare earth elements: what confluence? - Sean Dudley - TEDxBozeman

This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Associated Data Supplementary Materials File-2 Appendix A List of 53 advanced rare earth projects 58 rare earth mineral resources belonging to 49 companies in 16 countries. Abstract Rare earths are increasingly being applied in high-tech industries, such as green energy e. Keywords: Earth sciences, Business, Economics, Industry. Theory 2. Supply chain of rare earth elements The productive chain of the REEs consists of several steps 1—6. Open in a separate window.

Most relevant competitiveness factors Based on the experiences of the authors of this article in the area of evaluation of mining and metallurgy projects, working in large public and private companies, over 15—20 years. The most relevant competitiveness and risk factors of rare earth productive activity can be grouped into six categories: 1. Description of factors 2. The distributions commonly used in the REE industry as an evaluation criterion and their implications for competitiveness are: -. Methodology Several data sources were initially used to examine the competitiveness factors, such as resource size, content, distribution of REEs, market prices, presence of radioactive elements and other economic variables of projects CAPEX, OPEX, etc.

The six premises for proper application of this methodology are described below: 1. Declarations Author contribution statement Gustavo A. Funding statement This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.


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  • Competing interest statement The authors declare no conflict of interest. Additional information No additional information is available for this paper. The glassmaking industry largely abandoned using the rare earth element cerium for polishing. Although industries related to national security would be unable to entirely forgo rare earth minerals, Gholz thinks the U. In any case, a variety of industries will continue to rely heavily on rare earth minerals.

    To obtain them without depending on Chinese or U. He pointed to many research projects at both academic and government labs: the latter include the U. For example, rare earth elements such as neodymium and dysprosium are frequently combined in permanent magnets. To separate them, Schelter's lab has developed chemical processes that can selectively dissolve one rare earth element while the other remains solid.

    It's a "fast and efficient approach to metals separation," he says, but the cost is currently not competitive with mining. Still, he thinks that could change because the market price of rare earth elements is currently kept "artificially low"—it does not account for the cost of waste treatment and handling during the mining and separation processes.

    If the recycled versions of these materials were marketed as cleaner alternatives to mined rare earth elements, it might encourage companies seeking a greener image to pay more for them. You have free article s left.

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    Factors and competitiveness analysis in rare earth mining, new methodology: case study from Brazil

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