Lynas Corporation, Ltd.: Common Misconceptions about Rare Earths

A major presence in the market for rare earths outside of China, Lynas Malaysia maintains a processing plant in Gebeng in addition to Lynas’ concentration plant in Western Australia. In recent years, the company has made a concerted effort to dispel certain myths about rare earth element processing. Here is a short list of common misconceptions about rare earths.

Rare earths are rare: Despite what the name suggests, rare earths appear on every continent. Although China controls some 95 percent of all processing activities in the world, companies such as Lynas operate in multiple countries across the globe.

Rare earth element processing is dangerous: Throughout the years, rare earth element processing facilities have had very few problems adhering to high employee safety standards. As of mid-2012, Lynas Malaysia’s processing plant had clocked more than 8 million construction hours without a single safety incident resulting in lost time.

Gadolinium: Neutron-Absorbing Rare Earth Element

Presented by Lynas Corporation

At number 64 on the periodic table that charts the known chemical elements, gadolinium is a member of the lanthanide series of rare earth metals. A lustrous silver-white in color, it is stretchable, malleable, and fairly stable when exposed to air. Gadolinium is naturally found as an admixture of half a dozen of its isotopes, in the form of salts, and as an oxide. It is the sole lanthanide element to exhibit ferromagnetic properties at a normal range of temperatures, being paramagnetic above 68 degrees Fahrenheit and extremely magnetic at cooler temperatures.

Through two of its isotopes, gadolinium absorbs neutrons more efficiently than any other known element. It has therefore been used in the rods that control reactions in nuclear power plants and as an additive to nuclear fuel because of its ability to modulate both the first rapid reaction and the subsequent burnout process.

In the latter part of the 19th century, two independent European chemists isolated the oxide of gadolinium. Its name honors Finnish scientist Johan Gadolin, who had discovered the first of the rare earth compounds a century before.

Lynas Corporation Ltd. operates a rare earth mining operation in western Australia and an advanced materials plant through its subsidiary, Lynas Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. The company aims to be a leader in providing a reliable, mine-to-market supply of rare earth metals and in social responsibility within its local communities.

Cerium: Multipurpose Rare Earth Element

Prepared as Background Material by the Staff of Lynas Corporation

Cerium exists as the most abundant and one of the most widely useful of the chemical elements known as rare earths. Although found in significant amounts in the earth’s crust, these elements are “rare” because scientists typically find them difficult to extract from the their ores. First identified in the early 19th century and named after the asteroid Ceres, cerium occurs as a soft, silvery substance in its pure state that turns iron gray in most commercial applications. With an atomic number of 58, it holds a key position among the lanthanides on the periodic table, and when combined with its sister element, lanthanum, plays an important role in the manufacture of catalytic converters.

Moreover, cerium and other rare earths perform vital functions in the high technology and energy industries, including as a glass-polishing and glass color-removal agent in optical equipment manufacturing, a catalyst in petroleum refining, an alloy, and, under high pressure, an effective semiconductor. In combination with lanthanum and other relatively flammable rare earths, it holds a place as an essential component of Misch metal, used to create lighter flints. Carbon arc and projection lights for movie sets also rely on cerium for their manufacture.

A fast-growing company dedicated to the environmentally and socially responsible mining and marketing of rare earth elements, Lynas Corporation operates a mine in Western Australia and a plant in Malaysia.

The Most-Used Rare Earths and Their Applications

Lynas Corporation, which will begin supplying rare earths later this year, aims to create a market that provides reliable, high-quality materials. Through its mine in Australia, Lynas Corporation will offer a range of various rare earths, such as cerium, one of the most abundant rare earths. Cerium has become essential to the creation of environmental protection measures and systems that limit pollution across several industries, from transportation to raw material refinement. Compounds created with cerium form essential components in efficient catalytic converters.

Other commonly used rare earths include neodymium and europium. Neodymium magnets have allowed engineers to create modern computers, sound systems, and other electronics. Individuals find europium in televisions and computer screens around the world due to its unique photon emission properties that cause it to glow red.

Praseodymium, another common rare earth, has become a ubiquitous coloring pigment. The petroleum refining industry has benefited substantially from lanthanum, which has increased yields up to 1 percent while making plants run more efficiently. More information about rare earths and their applications is available on the Lynas Corporation website, www.lynascorp.com.

The Heavy Rare Earths and Their Uses

Sydney-based Lynas Corporation will soon open its rare earths refinery in Malaysia, through which it aims to maintain a steady supply of the elements. Pulling raw materials from the largest repository of rare earths in the world, Lynas Corporation will offer a full range of products, from the most popular elements to the so-called heavy lanthanides, such as samarium, dysprosium, terbium, and gadolinium.

Samarium plays a critical role in the creation of neodymium laser rods and dysprosium has resulted in the creation of smaller digital equipment that operates at high processing speeds. Energy efficient fluorescent lamps benefit from terbium, as do devices for recording data. Gadolinium displays uncommon magnetic behavior that enabled scientists to create magneto-optic recording devices and improve data storage technology.

Other heavy rare earths include thulium, which reduces x-ray exposure during scans; ytterbium, which allows scientists to better gauge earthquakes; and lutetium, which plays a role in positron emission tomography scans. As Lynas Corporation recognizes, the uses for these elements will only continue to expand in coming years.

Lynas Corporation: Helping to Create a Greener World

By providing rare earth elements for clients around the globe, Lynas Corporation Ltd. will have a direct impact on the future. In addition to committing itself to environmental sustainability in its mining and refining practices, Lynas Corporation’s rare earths will find use in numerous “green” technologies.

One such technology is the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), the recent innovation in lighting technology that can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by other forms of lighting. Available in the commercial market for several years now, CFLs use a quarter of the energy needed by conventional light bulbs, partially through the use of rare earth phosphors like europium and yttrium.

Another green application of rare earths can be seen in today’s hybrid vehicles. Hybrid technology requires rare earths in most components, from the neodymium and praseodymium in the regenerative brakes to the lanthanum in the nickel-metal hydride batteries.

Regardless of the application, rare earths will play an important role in the future of our environment. As a leader in the rare earths industry, Lynas Corporation is poised to take part in shaping tomorrow’s technology.

Recycling and Reusing Rare Earth Elements Worldwide

Presented by Lynas CorporationUntil recently, the rare earths industry has been dominated by Chinese companies. All but five percent of the production of rare earths has occurred within China, which also utilizes the vast majority of the rare earths it mines and processes in its own industrial applications. Because of increasing worldwide demand, alternative sources of rare earths must be identified, and many countries have sought ways to recycle these materials instead of mining them anew.

Current prices of rare earths have made the recycling of these elements economically feasible. The United Kingdom, for example, stands to make more than £15 billion from recycling rare earths from consumer electronics. Likewise, Japanese companies are currently exploring new technologies for recycling rare earth elements. Many companies, such as Hitachi Ltd. and Toyota Motor Corp., are working to recover materials like base metals, cobalt, dysprosium, and neodymium from their products in order to safeguard against rising prices in the rare metals markets.

About Lynas Corporation: A fully integrated rare earths company based in Sydney, Lynas Corporation Ltd. has committed itself to utilizing cutting-edge technology in order to minimize the environmental impact of its actions. Lynas Corporation plans to begin full operations later in 2012.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 44 other followers