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Rare earth elements

Rare earth elements

The rare earth elements (REEs) are the 15 lanthanides of the periodic table of elements, but often scandium and yttrium are included in the definition due to their similar chemical behaviour. The importance of this group of elements has grown in recent years due to use in a variety of industrial applications but particularly electronics, clean energy, and automobiles. Rare earth elements are found in two types of deposits: primary magmatic deposits and secondary concentration deposits, either by mechanical or chemical weathering.


Ore grade rare earth elements

The main minerals that are mined for REEs are bastnasite, monazite, loparite and laterite clays. All but the laterite clays are highly resistant to acid digestion, therefore necessitating a fusion decomposition for analysis.

Methods for ore grade REEs

ALS method ME-MS81h is suitable for ore grade REEs and is provided from a lithium borate fusion with ICP-MS analysis. The upper limit for the trace elements by this method range from 5,000 to 50,000 ppm, however, over-range analysis by ME-OGREE can determine concentrations up to 30%. Alternatively, where the lower detection limit is of lesser concern, fusion-XRF method ME_XRF30, which also includes loss on ignition as part of the analysis, may be suitable.

Code Analytes & Ranges (ppm)
0.1g sample
Ce* 3-50,000 Ho 0.05-5,000 Rb 1-50,000 Tm 0.05-5,000
Dy* 0.3-5,000 La* 3-50,000 Sm* 0.2-5,000 U 0.3-5,000
Er 0.2-5,000 Lu 0.05-5,000 Sn 5-50,000 W 5-50,000
Eu 0.2-5,000 Nb 1-5,000 Ta 0.5-5,000 Y 3-50,000
Gd* 0.3-5000 Nd* 0.5-50,000 Tb* 0.05-5,000 Yb 0.2-5,000
Hf 1-50,000 Pr* 0.2-5,000 Th 0.3-5,000 Zr 10-50,000
*These elements may be determined up to 30% by ME-OGREE.

0.7g sample"
CeO2 0.01-50 Ho2O3 0.01-10 Sm2O3 0.01-10
Dy2O3 0.01-10 La2O3 0.01-50 Tb4O7 0.01-10
Er2O3 0.01-10 Lu2O3 0.01-10 Tm2O3 0.01-10
Eu2O3 0.01-10 Nd2O3 0.01-10 Y 0.01-10
Gd2O3 0.01-10 Pr6O11 0.01-10 Yb2O3 0.01-10
Loss on Ignition Furnace or Thermogravimetric Analyser (TGA).
1g sample.

Frequently asked questions

Related Topics

Fusion Decomposition

Fusion decomposition

Where lower detection limits are required, two methods are suitable: ME-MS89L™ for trace values from a sodium peroxide fusion, or ME-MS81 from lithium borate.

Whole Rock Analysis

Whole rock analysis

Methods for determining rock forming elements may be added to both the ME-MS81™ and ME-MS89L™ REE exploration methods.