Characterisation of clay-hosted rare-earth element deposits in Western Australia
Total Grant Value
Rare Earths are at the heart of the mineral requirements for new low emission technologies from permanent magnets in wind turbines to new high efficiency electrical conductors and components in batteries. The rate of the discovery of clay hosted Rare Earth Elements (REE) deposits in Western Australia exceeds the industry knowledge base and ability to characterise these minerals. This has resulted in a lack of common practices and reporting of resources and the opportunity.
The project aims to characterise samples from a comprehensive suite of Western Australian clay-hosted REE deposits to answer these questions.
1) What controls REE distribution in the weathering profile?
2) What portion of REE are ionically bound to clays versus present in refractory minerals?
3) What refractory mineral phases are present?
4) What controls spatial variation in the degree to which REE are ionically bound?
Collaboration and sponsorship from 10 high potential deposits will help answer these questions.
Proposed Benefits to WA
A reliable supply of REE is crucial for the world to make the green energy transition. Demand for electric vehicles and energy storage, all requiring REEs, is forecast to increase 30-fold over the next 20 years; the wind energy industry is forecast to experience similar rapid growth. However, the extraction of REE in Chinese clay-hosted deposits has caused severe environmental damage. In contrast, REEs sourced under WA’s strict regulatory framework are guaranteed to meet strict environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards, allowing WA to compete worldwide. The growth of the REE resources in WA will help knowledge in processing and extraction of a critical Western Australian development industry. If this project is successful the study of extraction of these REE will be able to proceed.
Key words: Critical minerals, Rare earth elements, ionic, characterisation, clay deposits, neodymium, heavy rare earths, Praseodymium, extraction
Page was last reviewed 20 October 2023