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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,

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.

Rare Earth Elements: Essential to Modern Manufacturing Public Service Backgrounder by the Staff of Lynas Corporation

posted at All Rights ReservedToday’s high-technology world runs largely on rare earth elements, and in coming years, the demand for resources may hinge not so much on supplies of oil and gas as on substances such as lanthanum, cerium, neodymium, and dysprosium. These and 13 other elements on the periodic table, most of them in the lanthanide series, are known as rare earths.

Life today for many people would be unimaginable without fluorescent lighting, photovoltaic cells, colored glass, catalytic converters, and digital devices. Emerging energy-efficient technologies, such as regenerative braking systems and the lanthanum-containing batteries in hybrid cars and trucks, depend on rare earths. Computer hard drives process information thanks partly to dysprosium, and wind turbines turn in part because of neodymium. Europium is essential to the manufacture of the red phosphors in color television screens. Many other industries also depend on rare earths, which have the potential to increase the efficiency of even commonplace items such as magnets.

Discovered in the late 1700s, rare earth elements are now in such demand that forecasts for 2015 predict that world industry will require 185,000 tons of them, an increase of 50 percent from 2010. Though far more abundant than gold, rare earths are rare because they are seldom found in large enough quantities, and in configurations easy enough to extract, to be commercially viable.

Since 2010, when China announced that it would cut back on exports of these elements, prices have soared sometimes hundreds-fold, and other nations have sought to increase their own production and develop new supply sources.

Australia-based Lynas Corporation aims to step into this void as a major, fully integrated mine-to-market supplier of rare earth minerals to the global marketplace.


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