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The Potential of Reflectance and Laser Induced Luminescence Spectroscopy for Near-Field Rare Earth Element Detection in Mineral Exploration

Lorenz, S.; Beyer, J.; Fuchs, M.; Seidel, P.; Turner, D.; Heitmann, J.; Gloaguen, R.


New energy, transport, computer and telecommunication technologies require an increasing supply of rare earth elements (REEs). As a consequence, adequate and robust detection methods become essential for the exploration and discovery of new deposits, the improved characterization of existing deposits and the future recycling of today’s high-tech products. Within this paper, we investigate the potential of combining passive reflectance (imaging and point sampling) with laser stimulated luminescence (point sampling) spectroscopic measurements across the visible, near and shortwave infrared for REE detection in non-invasive near-field mineral exploration. We analyse natural REE-bearing mineral samples from main REE-deposits around the world and focus on challenges such as the discrimination of overlapping spectroscopic features and the influence of the mineral type on detectability, feature position and mineral matrix luminescence. We demonstrate that the cross-validation of results from both methods increases the robustness and sensitivity, provides the potential for semi-quantification and enables the time- and cost-efficient detection of economically important REE, including Ce, Pr, Nd, Sm, Eu, Dy, Er, Yb and potentially also Ho and Tm.

Keywords: laser induced luminescence spectroscopy; reflectance spectroscopy; hyperspectral imaging; laser-induced fluorescence; photoluminescence; rare earth elements


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