Rare Earth Elements
Rare Earth Elements (REE) are a group of 17 metallic elements consisting of the 15 lanthanoids in the periodic table, plus yttrium and scandium. REE are often classified as light rare earth elements (LREE) or heavy rare earth elements (HREE) based on their atomic masses.
Even though they are in relatively small quantities, their unique physical and chemical properties have made them essential in most high-tech products, such as smart phones, hard drives, medical applications, defense applications and renewable energy technology.
Some of the rare earth elements, such as neodymium (Nd), praseodymium (Pr) and dysprosium (Dy) are essential to produce high strength permanent magnets which are key component for e.g electric traction motors and wind turbine generators.
Despite its name, REEs are not particularly rare in nature, but they rarely occur in economically viable amounts. Producing separate REEs requires advanced processing, and thus knowledge about mineralogy and chemistry, to transform them into separated oxides for usage in metallurgical production.