REE required to power the future

Rare earth elements (REE) are the collective name for a group of metals predominantly made up of the lanthanides – named after the Greek word lanthanein, meaning “to lie hidden”.

Interestingly, the “rare’ in the name reflects how uncommon it is for them to occur in concentrations large enough to support commercial mining operations, despite the metals themselves having a high abundance in the Earth’s crust.

Technological advances have resulted in the growing importance of REE in many domestic, medical, and industrial applications. This includes their use in alloys for magnets and super magnets, motors, electronic and computing equipment, batteries, and more, thanks to their resistance to demagnetisation at high temperatures.


REEs bringing efficiency to net zero


Notably, the use of REEs in magnets has seen a huge jump in demand over the last decade as technological advancement and decarbonisation efforts continue to expand, being used in wind turbines, personal electronic devices, and EV motors to boost efficiency.

Up to two tons of rare earth magnets are required for some of these applications, and approximately 30 per cent of the global growth from 2015 to 2025 for rare earth magnets can be contributed to the wind turbine market. Additionally, the use of the REE Europium in energy efficient fluorescent light bulbs enable a 75 per cent power savings, whilst producing the same amount of light as a standard incandescent light bulb.

Their importance to modern life and the green energy transition has been reflected in recent years – in 2017, a Presidential Declaration was issued directing the US federal government to develop a plan to reduce America’s dependence on REEs from China, and in 2018 REEs were included on their list of 35 critical minerals.

Two notable REEs, neodymium and praseodymium, are expected to grow in demand by 300 per cent by 2030 as EV adoption rises, according to UBS. A report published in 2022 by Adamas Intelligence predicted that if the global consumption of REEs in the market continued uninterrupted, demand will outstrip supply in three to five years.


Australia meeting the market’s needs


Currently, 98 per cent of global REE production comes from China, with Australia following as number two despite only starting mining of the metals in 2007. After the prices for many rare earth oxides rose over 500 per cent in just a few years, global mining companies – including from the US, Australia and Canada – began to re-evaluate known rare earth projects and explore for new ones in order to meet rising future demand.

Although China has held historic supply dominance of rare earths over the last 30 years, geopolitical concerns, supply shortages and cost escalation has created the opportunity for Australia and other countries to re-enter the market.

Geoscience Australia has noted that REE-bearing minerals monazite and xenotime occur in many of Australia’s heavy mineral sand deposits and were produced and exported, mainly to Europe, up until the mid-1990s when China took over the market.


Dreadnought Resources


Dreadnought’s 100% owned Mangaroon project has identified ~20kms of REE ironstones and seven potentially REE-bearing carbonatite intrusions.

The outcropping high-grade REE ironstones, similar to those under development at the nearby Yangibana REE Project, have been discovered within Dreadnought’s 100% owned areas of Mangaroon.

The source of the regional rare earths in the area have also been potentially identified as originating from the seven REE-bearing carbonatite intrusions discovered.

Find out more about Dreadnought Resources.