Securing Australia’s rare earths for a diversified sustainable future

Australian Rare Earths Limited (AR3) is progressing the exploration of a significant deposit of valuable clay-hosted rare earth elements in Australia.

At AR3, we are working with others in the development of the independent supply chains necessary to secure the materials critical to producing renewable energy and de-carbonising the world’s energy landscape.

We have achieved significant exploration success with the discovery of clay-hosted rare earth elements within Australia that to date have only been produced from sources in China and Myanmar. While there are similar projects being evaluated in Africa and South America; in Australia we are fortunate to have access first-hand access to CSIRO and ANSTO who are recognised world leaders in the development of the technologies for the rare earth projects.

What are rare earths?

Rare earths are the backbone of many of the devices we use on a daily basis, as well as the technologies that are already contributing to the health of our planet.

Rare earth elements (REE) are an element group on the periodic table that most people have never heard of, despite their use in many common products used on a daily basis. Constituting 30% of the market by volume and >90% by value, rare earth permanent magnets (REPMs) are so powerful they are the heart of modern efficient motors that drive electric vehicles, wind turbines and appliances, reducing power consumption and thereby reducing GHG emissions.

Rare earth elements have many other high tech applications, including in defence, medicine, aerospace, agriculture, catalysis and chemical industries. In Japan they are often referred to as the seeds of high technology.

Rare earth elements essential to the production of high-strength permanent magnets are in the highest demand.

Essential to the production of clean energy technology, the already substantial market for rare earth elements is growing rapidly. AR3 aims to separate and market the valuable clay-hosted rare earth elements discovered in South Australia and western Victoria to help secure a diverse and sustainable global supply of materials critical to our future.

Typically, REE are divided into Light and Heavy categories (LREE and HREE).

The name “rare earths” is slightly misleading, as many REEs are in fact relatively abundant in the Earth’s crust. What is unusual is to find deposits in significant concentrations to economically extract and process.

Exploration of the Koppamurra region has shown it contains significant quantities of LREEs Pr and Nd as well as the HREEs Tb and Dy.

Not only does demand for these four elements collectively make up the majority of global demand today; future demand is expected to grow faster than demand for all other rare earth elements, challenging the ability of the supply-side to keep up.

Accordingly, currently our main focus is the production of these rare earths in a form that is readily marketable those end users seeking new independent long-term supplies that can be integrated into complex supply chains.

Praseodymium is a light rare earth elements that is used to produce high-strength permanent magnets and commonly referred to as neodymium iron boron (NdFeB) magnets.

The unique strength, light weight and reliability of these magnets are the key to their application in hybrids, electric vehicles and wind turbines.