The 17 rare earth elements find uses in many low-carbon and smart technologies such as electric vehicles, windfarms, computers and phones. The Government wants to encourage an REE-based industry in New Zealand, and the NZIMMR is spearheading research to make this happen.
Increasing the Concentrations of Rare Earths
West Coast mineral sands along the region’s coasts have revealed encouraging concentrations of REEs, including within minerals not normally thought of as bearing REEs, ilmenite, epidote, zircon. The NZIMMR’s search for REEs is extending to mineral sands and other areas within New Zealand. Despite their name, rare earths are common. The excitement is around ﬁnding economic deposits, and the NZIMMR is working on a better insight into their mineralogy to help create these.
From telescopes to speakers, MRI screening and magnets, aerospace and touch screen technology, REEs have myriad uses. With most production in China, and global demand expanding, a search is on for new deposits, including in the US, Australia and New Zealand.
Neodymium and dysprosium are among high-value REEs found on the West Coast, starting a conversation on how to make their recovery economic. The NZIMMR’s contribution to date has been to increase the visibility of REEs, and renew interest in their economic recovery.