Mining Rare Earth Metals

Mining for rare earth metals could become economically and environmentally feasible though a process developed and patented at Purdue University. Credit: Purdue University

The production of rare earth metals is a global $4 billion annual market that continues to grow as new electronics, computerized engines for aircraft, warships, electric automobiles, magnets and other critical products are developed that need rare earth metals to perform. The value of the products that require rare earth metals to function is valued at more than $4 trillion per year.

The current challenge is that just one country, China, owns the market on extracting and purifying this critical resource despite the fact that other global countries, including the U.S., are rich in such metals. The detrimental environmental impact of current acid based separation and purification of rare earth metals prohibits most companies across the globe from entering the…

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