The global rare earth element exploration boom: An analysis of resources outside of China and discussion of development perspectives

Holger Paulick, Erika Machacek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper analyzes the mineral resource definitions from the exploration boom that followed the rare earth element (REE) price peak of 2011, and finds that 1. the delineated REE mineral resources outside of China reached a total of 98 Mt contained total rare earth oxides in 2015 with the majority located in Canada (38 Mt), Greenland (39 Mt) and Africa (10.3 Mt), representing a fivefold increase between 2010 (16.5 Mt combined) and 2015 (87.3 Mt combined).2. a large portion of these resources contain REE bearing silicates as dominant ore mineral which have a higher heavy REE to light REE ratio than conventional carbonate-mineral REE resources.The results highlight effective, stock market-financed exploration by junior companies and demonstrate REE resource availability outside of China. However, at current low prices, challenges to transform these resources from exploration to mining projects remain. These are tied to the up-scaling of beneficiation technologies for unconventional REE ore minerals and to raising investment for project implementation. In this context, we contend that the successful delineation of these REE resources provide abundant options for expansion and investment in the REE industry which are most likely harnessed by the dominant REE market player, China. Concerns about China's dominant role are therefore likely to persist.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-153
Number of pages20
JournalResources Policy
Volume52
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017

Keywords

  • China
  • Exploration
  • Greenland
  • Investment
  • Mineral resources
  • Rare earth element
  • MiMa

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 4: Mineral Resources

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