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Research Project: Developing Technologies that Enable Growth and Profitability in the Commercial Conversion of Sugarcane, Sweet Sorghum, and Energy Beets into Sugar, Advanced Biofuels, and Bioproducts

Location: Commodity Utilization Research

Title: Global demand for rare earth resources and strategies for green mining

item DUTTA, TANUSHREE - Hanyang University
item KIM, KI-HYUN - Hanyang University
item Uchimiya, Sophie
item KWON, EILHANN - Sejong University
item JEON, BYONG-HUN - Hanyang University
item DEEP, AKASH - Central Scientific Instruments Organization
item YUN, SEONG-TAEK - Korea University

Submitted to: Environmental Research
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/31/2016
Publication Date: 6/13/2016
Citation: Dutta, T., Kim, K.H., Uchimiya, M., Kwon, E.E., Jeon, B.H., Deep, A., Yun, S.T. 2016. Global demand for rare earth resources and strategies for green mining. Environmental Research. 150:182-190.

Interpretive Summary: Rare earth elements (REEs), including lanthanum, scandium, and neodymium, impact all sectors of agriculture including the automation and portable on-farm devices. This paper will critically review challenges and opportunities facing REEs, including the supply and demand balance, environmental impact of mining, and advancements in recycling and other urban mining technologies.

Technical Abstract: Rare earths elements (REEs) are essential raw materials for the emerging green (low-carbon) energy technologies and ‘smart’ electronic devices. Global REE demand is slated to grow at a compound annual rate of 5% by 2020. Such high growth rate would require a steady supply base of REEs in the long run. At present, China holds more than 95% of the global REEs production. To overcome this monopolistic supply situation, new strategies and investments are necessary to satisfy the domestic supply demands. Concurrently, environmental, economic, and social problems arising from REE mining must be addressed. There is an urgent need to develop efficient REE recycling techniques from end of the life products, technologies to minimize the amount of REEs required per unit device, and recovery from the fly ash from fossil fuel burning wastes.