Rare Earth Elements
Rare earth elements (RRE) are 17 elements consisting of 15 lanthanides and yttrium and scandium, which show similar properties according to chemical, magnetic and optical properties. Rare earth elements are heavy (Sc, Y, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb and Lu) and light (La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Pm and Sm) rare elements in the elements that make up rare earth elements. This grouping was made according to the atomic numbers of the elements and their frequency in nature. Light rare earths are more common in nature. The rare adjective in the names of rare earth elements is caused by the difficulty of the processing of ores and their use, rather than the low frequency of their presence in nature. Because the frequency of RREs found in nature is higher than metals such as chromium, nickel, lead and copper.
Due to their use, RREs are indispensable for modern materials and energy technologies. Despite the low amount of use in material production, due to the high level of mechanical, magnetic, electrical and optical properties it brings to the material, rare earth elements are considered as the vitamin of the material and the seed of the material. The prominent uses of rare earth elements are given in the table below.
When the usage areas are evaluated, the use of RRE stands out in the production of catalyst and magnet. Namely, these two areas mentioned constitute 60% of the amount of RRE consumption in 2018 and 90% of the market value.
Future projections for the NTE markets are expected to increase the demand for environmentally friendly energy generation systems (wind power, solid oxide fuel cells and electric vehicles) with the tightening of emissions and environmental regulations. It is thought that the demand for NTEs (Tb, Dy, Nd and Pr) used in magnet production will increase and supply of these elements will be experienced by 2025. Another factor that increases the importance of NTEs is the fact that the production of rare earths (intermediate and end product production and industry) is concentrated in China by 80% and since 1990s China has used NTE reserves as a weapon in the solution of commercial, political and strategic problems. . In 2010, due to the domination conflict between China and Japan in the North China Sea, China's restriction in NTE exports caused a significant increase in NTE prices.
Because of China's commercial and political constraints in the field of RRE and the importance of the use of RREs, RREs have been placed in the strategic raw materials category by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the European Commission (European Commision).
The environmental, commercial and political situation in the world has enabled the work carried out in the field of RRE to focus on supply security. In this context, it is aimed to reduce the need for RREs with the studies in the field of substitution materials and substitution technologies. In this context, it is aimed to diversify the sources of supply in the short term by means of RRE production, other mineral wastes (coal ashes, red sludge in bauxite facilities, etc.) as well as other metals as a by-product, in the fields of RRE production and recycling of waste.
In our country, search and technology studies in the field of RRE have accelerated recently, similar to the world. In this context, the construction of a pilot plant for the operation of basnazite ore in Eskişehir / Beylikova by Eti Mining Operations is ongoing. Exploration studies of MTA in Malatya, Burdur and Isparta are ongoing.
In addition, Rare Earth Elements Research Institute (NATEN) was established in order to monitor and encourage research in the field of NTE in our country. NATEN started to continue their activities in the new established Turkey Power, Nuclear and Mining Research Institute (TENMAK) since 2020.
The details presented here have been prepared with the aim of informing the users of the website of our Ministry, and do not possess the characteristics of official binding documents.