Status Quo and Future Evaluations of Global Rare Earth Mining (with Respect to Special Rare Earth Element-industry Criteria)


Status Quo and Future Evaluations of Global Rare Earth Mining (with Respect to Special Rare Earth Element-industry Criteria)

Barakos, G.; Mischo, H.; Gutzmer, J.

Abstract

The continuously growing demand for rare earth elements (REEs), in combination with the crisis of 2009 and the price spike of 2011, has initiated a treasure hunt for rare earth deposits all over the world in recent years. Since then, commodity prices have declined and are now quite stable, yet the world is still dependent on China’s dominance of the market and its export policies. Exploration is unremitting and numerous resources of potential interest have already been revealed in many countries; however, proceeding to mining operations is not that simple, especially when it comes to the exploitation of rare earth deposits. Evaluating the feasibility of a mining project is always a unique, sensitive and rather complex process that depends on multiple criteria. This paper focuses on clarifying the present and future global situation in the development of respective deposits and on identifying rare earth-specific criteria that influence the overall feasibility assessments of any potential (especially underground) mining projects. Environmental impacts, legislation issues and the presence of radioactive pollutants are some of the notable boundary conditions that govern rare earth mining operations and need to be taken into consideration. Furthermore, the balance problem between the supply and demand of the different REEs can determine decisively whether a deposit of specific REEs is economically exploitable. For this reason, evaluations are made regarding the future strategies to be enacted in order for the rest of the world to detach itself from this situation. The ultimate goal of these evaluations is for them to be incorporated in an overall assessment tool for rare earth underground mining procedures that will be implemented in real case studies to determine their sustainability.

  • Open Access Logo Contribution to proceedings
    Third International Future Mining Conference, 04.-06.11.2015, Sydney, Australia
    Third International Future Mining Conference, Carlton Victoria, Australia: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurg, 978 1 925100 40 2

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