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Friday, 10th April 2015

Recovery of Rare Earths from Electronic Wastes

Source: Directorate-General for Internal Policies (EU)

From Executive Summary:

Critical raw materials, such as rare earths, have a high economic importance for the EU, combined with a high risk associated with their supply. It is expected that in the coming years, demand for rare earths will grow as consumer preferences shift towards hi-tech and green products. Therefore, the recovery of the RE elements from electronics scrap is extremely important for both economic and environmental reasons.

The objective of the study is to describe the potential of innovative technologies for recovery of rare earths from electronic waste and to evaluate how they could be implemented in industry, in particular in hitech SMEs.

Rare earth elements (REEs) are critical due to their importance in a number of applications, including a number of green technologies, but, primarily, because of the high supply risks arising from the dependence on a single source (China).

At a global level, the demand for rare earth oxides in 2008 was estimated at around 120 000 tonnes, expected to increase up to around 170 000 – 200 000 tonnes in 2014. The EU is a net importer of REEs and accounted for less than 8% of the total in 2012. However, most REEs that enter the EU are already embodied in components manufactured outside the EU.

Since the 1990s China has been producing roughly 90% of the world's supply of REEs, exceeding 95% in 2011.

+ Direct link to Study (PDF; 1.7 MB)


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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »



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