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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.

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.

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.