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Strategic evaluations and mining process optimization towards a strong global REE supply chain

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Rare earth elements (REE) have turned from an inconspicuous group of raw materials to critical commodities in the last decade. The insatiable and continuously growing demand for rare earths combined with their small and opaque market has resulted in a global exploration boom that has led to the delineation of extensive resources on every continent. Nevertheless, the special boundary conditions that govern the REE industry require second thoughts and careful evaluations when it comes to the potential exploitation of such resources. Past mistakes, with respect to environmental impacts and uncertain investments, have resulted in an overall uncertainty whether the mining and beneficiation of rare earth elements can be a viable industry in a free market context. This paper attempts to record the erroneous practices of the past and use them as guidelines to strengthen the global REE supply-chain. Moreover, the paper focuses on the assessments that need to be made in order to optimize the mining process and reinforce the growth prospects of the market. An overall assessment tool for the mineability of rare earth deposits is also used to consolidate these evaluations and answer the question, if REE mining can be sustainable.
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Bibliogr. 29 poz.
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Opracowanie ze środków MNiSW w ramach umowy 812/P-DUN/2016 na działalność upowszechniającą naukę.
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