Rare Earths for Renewable Energy
Here's a breakdown of the data in the text and the meaning of the elemental symbols. The two tables provided show mineral resource estimates for two different sections of the Mt Weld Rare Earth Deposit as of 2022.
Table 2: MT WELD RARE EARTH DEPOSIT MINERAL RESOURCES 2022
This table provides the mineral resource estimate for the rare earth elements found in this deposit. "Total Rare Earth Oxides (TREO)" refers to a group of rare earth oxides including:
- La2O3: Lanthanum oxide
- CeO2: Cerium oxide
- Pr6O11: Praseodymium oxide
- Nd2O3: Neodymium oxide
- Sm2O3: Samarium oxide
- Eu2O3: Europium oxide
- Gd2O3: Gadolinium oxide
- Tb4O7: Terbium oxide
- Dy2O3: Dysprosium oxide
- Ho2O3: Holmium oxide
- Er2O3: Erbium oxide
- Tm2O3: Thulium oxide
- Yb2O3: Ytterbium oxide
- Lu2O3: Lutetium oxide
- Y2O3: Yttrium oxide
Table 3: CLASSIFICATION OF MINERAL RESOURCES FOR THE NIOBIUM RICH RARE METALS PROJECT
This table provides a breakdown of the other rare elements found in the deposit, including:
- Ta2O5: Tantalum Oxide
- Nb2O5: Niobium Oxide
- TLnO: Total Rare Earth Oxide
- ZrO: Zirconia
- P2O5: Phosphate
- Y2O3: Yttria (Yttrium oxide)
- TiO2: Titanium oxide
In a renewable energy/electric vehicle context, these rare earth elements have many applications. Neodymium and praseodymium, for instance, are used in the magnets for electric motors. Dysprosium and terbium are added to neodymium to make it resistant to heat, improving its performance. Lanthanum and cerium are used in battery technology. Yttrium and europium are used in LED lights and screens, improving energy efficiency. In the Niobium rich section, tantalum is used in capacitors for electronics and electric vehicles, while niobium is used to make steel stronger and lighter for vehicle frames.
"Explain it like I'm 5" summary: Imagine a huge playground made of sand. But this sand isn't normal; it has special grains (elements) that we can use to make cool stuff like super-strong magnets for toys (electric cars) and shiny screens for games (LED lights). This report tells us how many of these special grains we've found in two different parts of the playground. And guess what? We've found a lot!
Determining whether the amount of deposits is significant in the context of industry standards can be somewhat complex due to a variety of factors including the specific market demand for each rare earth element, extraction costs, and geopolitical considerations. However, some general insights can be provided.
First, it's important to note that rare earth elements (REEs) are not equally distributed in ores, and their distribution can significantly impact the economic viability of mining. Some elements are typically more abundant and thus cheaper to produce, such as cerium and lanthanum, whereas others like dysprosium and terbium are scarcer and therefore more valuable.
The Mt Weld deposit, according to your data, contains approximately 2,877 thousand tonnes of total rare earth oxides (TREO). To put this in context, the US Geological Survey estimated global reserves of REEs at around 120 million metric tons as of 2020. China is the leading producer, and as of my knowledge cut-off in 2021, China's Bayan Obo mine is the largest REE mine in the world.
Considering that the Mt Weld deposit is one of the highest-grade rare earth deposits in the world, and that it is outside of China (which is a significant consideration given China's dominance in the market), the quantity of TREO in this deposit is indeed quite significant. However, the real value lies not just in the amount of TREO, but in the specific distribution of elements within that TREO, especially those that are most in demand for technologies such as electric vehicles and renewable energy.
The data also provides insights into the deposits of the Niobium Rich Rare Metals Project. The indicated and inferred tonnes for each specific oxide (Ta2O5, Nb2O5, ZrO, P2O5, Y2O3, TiO2) can also be considered quite significant, especially considering the specific uses of these elements in various high-tech and green energy applications.
In conclusion, while a more thorough comparison would need a detailed and up-to-date analysis of global reserves, current market demands, and geopolitical considerations, it can be said that the deposits at Mt Weld seem quite significant within the context of the global rare earth market.
The determination that Mt Weld is one of the highest-grade Rare Earth deposits is based on data and industry reports available up to my knowledge cutoff in September 2021. It's also a relatively well-known fact within the industry that Mt Weld, located in Western Australia and operated by Lynas Corporation, is renowned for its high-grade rare earth deposits.
This determination primarily arises from the percentage composition of the rare earth oxides (REO) in the ores found at Mt Weld. When referring to the "grade" of a mineral deposit, we're usually talking about the concentration of the desired minerals within the ore. A "high-grade" deposit has a high concentration of the mineral of interest, which in this case are the Rare Earth Oxides (REO).
According to your text, the Total Rare Earth Oxides (TREO) percentages range from 3.6% to 12% depending on the type of resources (measured, indicated, inferred, on stockpiles). This is indeed considered high-grade for rare earths, which often occur in lower concentrations in other deposits.
However, it's important to note that this information is accurate up until 2021, and newer data or discoveries since then may affect this assessment.