”Critical mass -rare earth elements." 01 January 12, Materials World Magazine -Members only feature- by Prof. Animesh Jha’s is an excellent succinct overview of the wide and complex fields involving Rare Earth Elements,(REE’s) Jha provides pointers and answers to many aspects in his near “cradle to grave” approach.
The issues at hand
What they are: Fig1 below shows their position in the periodic table of elements (interactive memory refresher link)
Process steps from Ore benefication to application and market through Oxide, Metal, and Alloy (Fig 4. opposite)
(Fig 5) The process has a high potential. Initial step up to industrial scale-up has been encouraging with much sought after lower cost Titanium for defence and transport applications.
Rhodia in France (member of the Belgian Solvay Group) is a major player in Rare Earth earth production and marketing. ( Rhodia has recently reached agreement(s) with China Rare Metals and Rare Earth Co., (Dec 12, 2011) with China Rare Metals and Rare Earth Co., Ltd. which is the wholly-owned subsidiary of CHINALCO aiming at integrating and developing the rare earth industry in China.
FURTHER STUDY OF RECYCLING (pdf)
2. - The FFC Cambridge Process has led to commercial exploitation by Metalysis Ltd., UK. The highly desirable electrochemical technique is used for further purification of the RE Oxides RE and RE metals mixture into component metals or alloys, including the production of RE magnetic alloys. The range of Metal Oxides and Minerals is not limited to Rare Earths but can be used to process many otherwise difficult to process metals
NB. For the student or professional reader wishing to pursue FFC Cams process work and Electrowinning in general many papers are freely available via internet eg.
Prof Jha’s own pioneering work and approach read in rare elements from waste
Valuable rare-earth raw materials extracted from industrial waste stream 15th Dec 09
Geological survey and exploration must continue within the EU and with trading partners for developing novel means of mining and mineral beneficiation.
"Last October, China started building the world's biggest off-shore wind farm in Bohai Bay, a few hours from Beijing. The country is
constructing wind farms on an unprecedented scale - surely good news given its insatiable appetite for coal. But each megawatt of
power a wind turbine generates requires up to one tonne of rare earth permanent magnets"