Earth science on a quest for critical metals

Geology May 17, 2021

On a quest for critical metal resources that are required for our electric, low carbon future, what are the challenges we face ?  In two recent talks, economic geologists Simon Jowitt (UNLV) and John Mavrogenes (ANU) gave their perspectives on what we need to do to find the Rare Earth Elements that we are going to need.

Simon Jowitt: Mining will save the world

"Climate change mitigation will require a significant decrease in the CO2 emissions associated with transport and energy generation. However, the material requirements for this transition are often neglected when developing plans and policy around combating climate change. In reality, moving to a low-CO2 future will require significant (in some cases >500%) increases in production of key minerals and metals beyond the record levels of production the mining industry has already achieved, even if we can also increase the recycling of these commodities. This presentation will outline the mineral requirements for a low CO2 future, why meaningful climate change mitigation will necessarily rely on the raw materials supplied by the minerals industry, and what implications this might have for the future of mining."

Simon Jowitt of UNLV tells us why mining will save the world`
Some more background information 

John Mavrogenes: How are Rare Earth Element Deposits made ?

"The Rare Earth Elements (REE) are much more than geochemical tracers. Increasing industrial demands make them important drivers of green technologies. Of their many uses, high temperature magnets and batteries will insure demand increases rapidly over coming decades. The western economies dependent on REE are seeking to diversify source deposits and countries, thus exploration is ramping up. I will review the existing REE deposits and explain their link to peralkaline and carbonatite complexes. I will then discuss features that appear to be hydrothermal and review what we know about REE solubilities in solution and how hydrothermal REE might form. Finally, I will discuss the possibilities of purely hydrothermal REE deposits, review existing models suggest how they may be improved."

John Mavrogenes of ANU explains "How to Make a Rare Earth Element Deposit"`

Background on Rare Earth Elements

The Geological Society of London - Rare Earth Elements
The Rare Earth Elements (REE) are a group of seventeen metallic elements. Their use in high-tech applications such as plasma screens, electronics, medical imaging and low carbon technologies including wind turbines and hybrid vehicles has led global demand to increase by more than 50% in the la…

Edited by

Louis Moresi (Updated June 15, 2021)


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