Geologists solve puzzle that could predict valuable rare earth element deposits


Research News


Pioneering new research has helped geologists solve a long-standing puzzle that could help pinpoint new, untapped concentrations of some the most valuable rare earth deposits.

A team of geologists, led by Professor Frances Wall from the Camborne School of Mines, have discovered a new hypothesis to predict where rare earth elements neodymium and dysprosium could be found.

The elements are among the most sought after, because they are an essential part of digital and clean energy manufacturing, including magnets in large wind turbines and electric cars motors.

For the new research, scientists conducted a series of experiments that showed sodium and potassium – rather than chlorine or fluorine as previously thought – were the key ingredients for making these rare earth elements soluble.

This is crucial as it determines whether they crystalise – making them fit for extraction – or stayed dissolved in fluids.

The experiments could therefore allow geologists to make better predictions about where the best concentrations of neodymium and dysprosium are likely to be found.

The results are published in the journal, Science Advances on Friday, October 9th 2020.

University of Exeter researchers, through the ‘SoS RARE’ project, have previously studied many natural examples of the roots of very unusual extinct carbonatite volcanoes, where the world’s best rare earth deposits occur, in order to try and identify potential deposits of the rare earth minerals.

However, in order to gain a greater insight into their results, they invited Michael Anenburg to join the team to carry out experiments at the Australian National University (ANU).

He simulated the crystallisation of molten carbonate magma to find out which elements would be concentrated in the hot waters left over from the crystallisation process.

It showed that sodium and potassium make the rare earths soluble in solution. Without sodium and potassium, rare earth minerals precipitate in the carbonatite itself. With sodium, intermediate minerals like burbankite form and are then replaced. With potassium, dysprosium is more soluble than neodymium and carried out to the surrounding rocks.

Professor Frances Wall, leader of the SoS RARE project said: “This is an elegant solution that helps us understand better where ‘heavy’ rare earths like dysprosium and ‘light’ rare earths like neodymium’ may be concentrated in and around carbonatite intrusions. We were always looking for evidence of chloride-bearing solutions but failing to find it. These results give us new ideas.”

Michael Anenburg , a Postdoctoral Fellow at ANU said: “My tiny experimental capsules revealed minerals that nature typically hides from us. It was a surprise how well they explain what we see in natural rocks and ore deposits.”


Rare earth element mobility in and around carbonatites controlled by sodium, potassium, and silica is published in Science Advances on Friday, October 9th 2020.

The SoS RARE project was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (UK Research and Innovation) as part of its Security of Supply of Minerals programme to help secure diverse and sustainable supplies of ‘e-tech’ metals such as the rare earths.

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John Tillman
October 11, 2020 2:18 am

Geology, like biology, depends upon chemistry and physics.

More important than ever now to find rare earth deposits outside China. Or just to quit subsidizing wind turbines, solar panels and electric cars.

Reply to  John Tillman
October 11, 2020 7:20 am

At the heart of “clean energy manufacturing:”

navy bob
Reply to  Scissor
October 11, 2020 7:55 am

Climate lunatics are determined to replace the gas that’s most essential for life on earth with whatever that stuff is in the lake.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Scissor
October 11, 2020 11:04 am

I notice they took a sample of the mud not the liquid
So now Griff will claim it is contaminants blown in from the canadian oil sands not from the sludge coming out of the pipe.

In the 90’s I did some work with Sherritt in Cuba, nickel mines, there was this pipe discharging red slop into the next valley over, gradually filling it

All mining is destructive

Mining for false purposes based on fraudulent science is a crime

Reply to  Scissor
October 11, 2020 3:11 pm

Heh, I’ve actually spent a fair amount of time in Baotou. I installed my detectors on the coal railroad running through there. Never saw that lake, though. Ugh.

Reply to  Scissor
October 12, 2020 8:36 am

Similar methods used for any heayy mineral to be found in alluvial deposits. These minerals are used for control systems in all types of new technology from the oil industry to mobile phone communication to flat screen TV’s

Mickey Reno
Reply to  Scissor
October 12, 2020 8:51 am

To call this a lake might be technically accurate, but it’s really just a tailing pond, built on purpose to capture mine effluent, and allow the water to evaporate naturally. You can find many tailing ponds around the world. A famous one from my old neck of the woods was the Fremont Pass, Climax molybdenum mine tailing ponds. These are actually pro-environment structures, that stop mine effluent from flowing into natural watersheds and creeks and rivers. Fly ash ponds perform a similar function around large coal fired power plants. If we want chrome-moly steel, and cheap electricity, these ponds are part of the trade offs. They’re not happy wonderful places to take a bath, but they’re necessary to having certain things that we do want, and with proper engineering, the damage can be mitigated and minimized.

Or we can, as went an old saying around my first university, just “ban mining – let the bastards freeze in the dark.”

Reply to  Mickey Reno
October 13, 2020 1:04 pm

In my younger years, I worked at an electrical generating station in Arkansas that was right along the Snake River. Needless to say, mosquitoes were a significant problem.

The little buggers would come into the generating station via any route they could find. The walls of the structure were corrugated, so a lot of them came in through there, along with a lot of frogs and snakes. I spent a lot of time filling those corrugated holes along the bottom of the walls with expanding foam.

At the doors, the mosquitoes would congregate, and get sucked in any time the door was opened even for a short while. Since we had large exhaust fans pulling air upward through the station to cool the spaces, there was always a wind any time any door was opened.

The clever little bloodsuckers learned to fly behind a person. If you turned around, the cloud of mosquitoes would disperse and reform behind you. And they could bite even through blue jeans.

After getting my back and the backs of my legs chewed up one too many times, I vowed to fight them. I started by leaving the door open (the mosquitoes were getting in anyway). This kept a steady wind going such that I could stand in the door opening, face the cloud of mosquitoes, and they couldn’t fly fast enough to get behind me because of the wind. Then I’d clap my hands… after just a minute or so, my hands would be completely black and covered in a slick of dead mosquitoes. That didn’t kill them fast enough.

We had an old fogger that had been used decades before, but the engine was broken. I rebuilt it and had the fogging juice purchased. It was just a 3.5 HP Briggs & Stratton engine on a tank. A pump squirted the fogging juice onto the engine’s exhaust, creating a deadly cloud.

I would go up to the top of the station, turn off all but one exhaust fan, then go back to the basement door and run the fogger with the door open. The slight breeze would pull the fog into the building. I’d run it until the entire building was thick with the fog. The mosquitoes would fall out of the air and down into the basement (the floors on each level were grating, so things would fall all the way to the basement), leaving about a quarter inch of dead mosquitoes on the basement floor each night.

This attracted little green frogs, which filled the basement, which attracted cottonmouth snakes and rattlesnakes. Now I had a nightly ritual of catching all the frogs (while avoiding the snakes), putting them in a bucket, transporting them to the river and dumping them, then washing all the dead mosquitoes down the drains with a fire hose. And it still wasn’t enough to make a dent in the number of mosquitoes. I trained the guard dog to attack the snakes. She’d grab them and whip them around until they stopped moving. I was losing the war.

Then I got an idea… we had four huge forced induction fans for the natural gas / fuel oil burners. They were so large you could stand against the grating at the fan inlets, lift your legs and the suction would keep you pinned there.

I had 6 large blacklights purchased, and mounted them above the fan inlets.

The first night I tested the setup, a steady cloud of mosquitoes made its way toward the lights, only to get sucked into the fans. They were then burned, with their ash falling to the floor of the burner section. I was using mosquitoes as fuel.

After six months, we shut down and opened the hatch to the burner section to inspect it. There was a large mound of burned mosquitoes about 9 feet high and 20 feet diameter. Luckily, the burner section had large drains that went out to a tailing pond, so we just washed it all down the drain… literal ‘fly-ash’.

The mosquito problem largely went away, the ‘frogs in the basement’ problem went away, and the ‘snakes in the basement’ problem went away. I had created the world’s largest bug zapper. LOL

Reply to  John Tillman
October 11, 2020 7:39 am

Plenty of rare earths outside china, but no one can extract them for a bowl of rice and a packet of cigarettes a day elsewhere…

M Courtney
Reply to  Leo Smith
October 11, 2020 8:15 am

The Camborne School of Mines can find these elements pre-mined in tailings from around the town.
Guess finding what minerals stored the most economical sources will let any budding entrepreneur know which mine waste to extract.
Cornwall has a future in mining as well as a history.

John Tillman
Reply to  Leo Smith
October 11, 2020 9:48 am

True that China’s low cost of extraction and lack of environmental regulation largely account for its present dominance, but it does have about 37% of estimated world reserves:

New processes of extraction and sources, for instance from mine tailings, and discovery of new reserves might change that ratio.

John Galt III
Reply to  Leo Smith
October 11, 2020 5:53 pm

There’s thorium in most of these deposits and the world is still stuck on the zero no threshold hypothesis. So they have to get rid of the thorium. Stuck on stupid?

Molten Salt Reactors utilizing thorium as a fuel is the future but it is a great solution so:

Wind Mill People oppose it
Solar People oppose it
Oil, Gas and Coal People oppose it
Light Water Reactor uranium People don’t competition
Enviro-fascists like Amory Lovins hate it – he wants fewer people on the planet like Greenpeace
Politicians hate it – No $$$$$$$$$$$ in it for them

So as I ask people. Suppose, just suppose you could solve the global warming crisis and the energy crisis with a miracle solution. How many enemies would it have and would it be allowed to be adopted? Every person sees the paradox and they say of course it won’t be allowed.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  John Tillman
October 11, 2020 9:57 am

The problem is not geology. It is politics and money.

The Chinese have decided to use their RE mines as a trade weapon. By running their mines without environmental safeguards, with cheap labor that has no workplace protections or rights, and cheap money from state owned banks they have undercut all western producers.

In the meantime, “environmentalists” who believe that it is a sin to cut Gaia with sharp tools have campaigned to keep the mines shut. We can assume that the “environmentalists” are being funded by the Chinese regime, that is LTAO, at how stupid and gullible those baizuo are.

Reply to  John Tillman
October 11, 2020 1:06 pm

It’s call petrology and you need great thin section techs to do it right.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  John Tillman
October 11, 2020 3:08 pm

This ‘discovery’ is a load of bull! Carbonatites are the largest locus of rare earth elements in concentrations and the very best bets are known to be associated with ferro-carbonatites. Indeed, the most abundant RE mineral is is Bastnaseite, a carbonate itself.

Even calcium carbonate precipitation in seawater carries traces of rare earths scavenged from the water. Most often, the individual rare earths are produced as carbonates which can easily be reduced to the oxide by heating for further manufacturing.

The double salt, sodium sulphate•magnesium sulphate is used to separate light rare earths from heavy ones for downstream further processing, the heavies forming RE sulphate solutions and the lights forming insoluble sulphates. Probably this is where these geologists who are clearly inexperienced in the area of rare earth resources, chemistry and mineralogy came across the sodium connection.

No one knowledgeable thought that fluorine was primary carrier of this mineralization. A rare earth ion encountering fluorine instantly precipitates as the insoluble fluoride! The ultra-extremely low solubility of the fluoride is a reliable way to affect an accurate assay, and, of course to precipitate them from lean solutions. Their are fluoride veins of rare earths because of this, associated with pegmatites which are a lesser resource for rare earths and fluorine. Almost invariably these occur in the contact area of pematites or in a skarn.

Similarly, the rare earth has an affinity for phosphorus with which it forms not only insoluble phosphate minerals which are commonly separated from beach sands in Australia and Southeast Asia (monazite and xenotime) but even large open pit phosphate deposits carry rare earth elements in residues from processing the phosphate fertilizer products. They also are virtually always found in contact zones of pegmatites as trace to economic quantities in the phosphate mineral apatite. Carbonatites are always loaded with phosphate.

Finally, there is no shortage of RE resources, Canada has enormous resources. One project I consulted on has over 200million tonnes of carbonatite running about 2% REO (rare earth oxides is how grades are reported). Mount Royal (the mountain that is the core and namesake of Montreal) is itself a carbonatite, one of a chain of carbonatites stretching from southern Quebec to a third the way across northern Ontario. There are trillions of tonnes. China with their cheap and dirty mining and processing made these and ones in Africa, Australia, Russia uneconomic.

BTW, these are likely to supply in the future thorium in enormous quantities that dwarf Uranium resources.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Gary Pearse
October 11, 2020 7:21 pm

And, the claim has been made that the former US REE operation at Mountain Pass was shut down over the excuse of a threat to desert tortoises. I suspect that it was just an excuse because after Molycorp was shut down, the Chinese bought an interest in the property.

October 11, 2020 2:34 am

So long as its not from the “climate” troughers at U.Exeter….. this”could” be useful !

But we wouldn’t need all that rare earth and the massive pollution by toxic materials to refine it, if so much wasn’t needed for each wind turbine.

Smart Rock
Reply to  fred250
October 11, 2020 6:19 am

Camborne School of Mines is in the heart of the former tin mining country in Cornwall. It was founded to support the local mining industry that no longer exists, but they still do decent geology and mining technology. I surmise that the affiliation with the University of Exeter was a convenient way of getting to grant degrees. Hopefully there’s no contamination from the climateers in the next county.

On the outer Barcoo
Reply to  Smart Rock
October 11, 2020 7:18 am

“Where she be, there she be” – old Cornish miners’ saying

Ron Long
October 11, 2020 3:14 am

Interesting suggestion that there may be rare earth element concentrations produced by fluids exiting carbonatite complexes, in a hydrothermal mineralization setting. There are clusters of carbonatite pipes located south of Big Timber, Montana, and I looked at several as a young geologist. Weird mineralogy! By the way there are two different mechanisms to produce mineable concentrations of rare earths, either a starting high concentration or a mechanism to enrich from a dilute source. Redbed copper, vanadium, uranium, and cobalt deposits often have high light rare earth concentrations. I have geochemical analysis showing cerium, gallium, and yttrium (rare earth-like element) from some redbed roll-front examples in the Neuquen Basin.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Ron Long
October 11, 2020 12:41 pm

I know nothing about geology but enjoy this site to fill gaps, especially your comments

Reply to  Ron Long
October 11, 2020 1:26 pm

Ron Long
October 11, 2020 at 3:14 am

“Interesting suggestion that there may be rare earth element concentrations produced by fluids exiting carbonatite complexes, in a hydrothermal mineralization setting.”

Ron, you might like to have a look at the Mt. Weld carbonatite deposit in Western Australia that Lynas Corp. is successfully mining for rare earths. They are a very credible alternative to Chinese product and I believe are about to start up a processing facility int the USA (Texas?) to compliment their operation in Malaysia. I worked with the geologist, Rob Duncan, back in the 1970’s who was responsible for the discovery (but in Cameroon, not Australia where we were looking for unconformity type uranium deposits)

David Baird
October 11, 2020 3:57 am

If extraction can be done economically, coal and coal waste may be the way go. Wyoming has a 3 year study underway to extract REE from coal ash in the Powder River basin from a DOE grant. A number of studies from colleges in the east have shown the coal from the Appalachian Mountains.

Now I am all for having uninterrupted electricity. Coal fired power plants have been a crucial part of domestic power generation that I wish to see continue. Coal fired power plants can be built to be a lot cleaner today compared to the past, and yes, I’ll take the Earth greening from higher CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. So if we can keep the power uninterrupted, clean up coal waste, employ those in the industry, employ more in new extractive industry and break our supply chain need with China, I am all for it.

David Baird
Reply to  David Baird
October 11, 2020 4:44 am

“Correction” A number of studies from colleges in the east have shown the coal from the Appalachian Mountains has the richest concentration of REE’s.

Reply to  David Baird
October 11, 2020 7:56 am

Modern coal plants are already clean, and have been for at least 30 to 40 years.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  David Baird
October 11, 2020 12:43 pm

I wonder if anyone has looked closely at oilsands Tailings for REE?
CNRL has a preliminary project in the works to extract titanium from Tailings

The more stuff we can extract from that the better it will all be
Make more $$ processing it
More energy needed

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  David Baird
October 11, 2020 6:56 pm

“..If extraction can be done economically, coal and coal waste may be the way go. Wyoming has a 3 year study underway to extract REE from coal ash in the Powder River basin from a DOE grant.”

Figuring out how to extract REEs in an environmentally tolerable and economical manner from coal ash is something that the U.S. should have started doing a long time ago. But I guess addressing the need for a domestic supply of REEs in the U.S. now is better than not at all.

“Battelle Memorial Institute (BMI) and Rare Earth Salts (RES) demonstrated that developing an environmentally benign and economically sustainable process for recovering rare earth element (REE) products from domestic coal ash sources is possible.”

Good to see the effort to extract REEs from coal ash is being addressed by the DOE (link above). Coking coal is also used in the steel making process. Yet, the environmentalists want coal mining shut down here in the U.S. as though none of this mattered to them. Brainless.

October 11, 2020 5:56 am

America had a rare earth industry. Apparently rare earths are expensive to process and China was able to do it cheaper. link

The problem doesn’t seem to be finding the rare earths so much as being able to afford processing them.

China has shown that it will use rare earths as a weapon of economic warfare. President Trump is wisely reviving the American rare earth industry.

China is aiming for self sufficiency. link As much as possible, China wants to be immune from outside economic pressure. China does, however, want to be able to turn the thumb screws on any country stupid enough to be reliant on China for anything.

It’s very important that President Trump is re-elected.

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  commieBob
October 11, 2020 7:13 pm

“”America had a rare earth industry. Apparently rare earths are expensive to process and China was able to do it cheaper. link

The problem doesn’t seem to be finding the rare earths so much as being able to afford processing them.””

commieBoB: Please view my comment above a 6:56 pm. They are working on processes to extract REEs from coal ash in the U.S.

Alastair gray
October 11, 2020 6:45 am

Why do vehicle electric motors and elrctric generators need permanent magnets. Your AC induction motor generates huGe magnetic fields by -induction. In fact most of the motors in the world both ac and dc operate without permanent magnets

Reply to  Alastair gray
October 11, 2020 7:34 am

Permanent magnets on the stator frame provide the magnetic fields that interact with the rotor field to produce torque. This eliminates the need to power the stator, thereby reducing electrical energy consumption. This also means the motor doesn’t need the amount of stator windings to produce the magnetic field and the motor can be made much smaller and lighter not requiring all the multiple wound coils or coils. For a mobile application like an automobile, this is a big deal and costs more for a smaller lighter motor/generator, so why the simple induction motor is the cheapest to make for stationary applications which can also make use of single phase AC or even more efficient 3 phase electricity from the grid instead of batteries. Probably the main reason is size and weight for a mobile application which permanent magnets can assist with.

navy bob
Reply to  Earthling2
October 11, 2020 8:06 am

Earthling – I’m familiar with DC-powered pulse-width-modulated motors with permanent-magnet rotors and windings in the external stator for light weight and wiring simplicity, but not the other way around. Don’t quite see the point of permanent-magnet stators. Where are they used?

Reply to  navy bob
October 11, 2020 9:06 am

Extreme lightweight drones for their electric motors…also used in computer drives to reduce heating such as PC/laptops. Permanent-magnet stators don’t require field windings so PMDC motors are a lot less weight, compact and more efficient since less heat loss. The EV motor has many different tech applications, such as Tesla using both an AC and DC motor/generator in their Model 3 and a lot of EV motors are AC inverted from the DC batteries but most still utilize permanent magnets for efficiencies in current/heat losses and keeping size and weight down.

navy bob
Reply to  Earthling2
October 11, 2020 9:21 am

But don’t the rotors require windings? And isn’t it more complicated to energize a rotor than a stator, since you need some way to maintain the electrical connection to the windings in the spinning rotor? Not arguing, just don’t understand a permanent magnet stator instead of a PM rotor.

Ed Bo
Reply to  Earthling2
October 11, 2020 11:12 am


I’m afraid you are a couple decades behind the times here. You are referring to old “brush DC” motors, which have a permanent-magnet stator and rotor windings fed through a mechanical commutator and brushes.

These are easy to control, so were commonly used before modern electronics and computation, but have enough drawbacks that they are rarely used for serious applications now. (Hobby motors are a different story.)

The biggest drawback is the need for periodic replacement of the brushes and/or commutator bars. Also, there is no good thermal path to dissipate the winding losses on the rotor.

For this reason, they have been overwhelmingly replaced by “brushless DC” motors, which have permanent magnet rotors and windings on the stator. (Technically, they are synchronous AC motors, but they are intended to be fed from a DC source through an electronic inverter.)

You are correct that permanent magnet motors can generate magnetic fields with less size, inertia, and heat generation than motors with only electromagnetic fields, such as induction motors. But these days, you are comparing an induction motor “squirrel cage” rotor to a PM rotor, with essentially equivalent stator windings for both types.

With the Model 3, Tesla has migrated from the induction motors of earlier generations to motors with permanent-magnet rotors.

Steve Richards
Reply to  Earthling2
October 11, 2020 11:29 am

I think you have this the wrong way round. In DC brushless motors as used in drones etc have a PM rotor and field windings.

Here is a link to an article of the website which discusses the pros and cons of brushless and induction motors, with induction motors coming out top for pure electric cars.

Ray in SC
Reply to  Earthling2
October 11, 2020 12:01 pm

Ed Bo’s explanation is 100% correct.

Reply to  Earthling2
October 11, 2020 2:06 pm

Yup…maybe I am a few decades behind the times, describing my DC brush motors, which had their place. I am still using these on a few applications and they work forever if you keep the brushes and commutator cleaned up in good condition. Or maybe even earlier, the double magneto used on piston airplane engines in case the alternator and/or battery failed and at least the engine spark plugs would keep getting spark and you got to land under power with a dead alternator/battery via mechanical rotation of the magneto from the engine. Just goes to show that an old guy can’t get anything past the WUWT crowd. Better get my glasses on and get with the program.

Reply to  Earthling2
October 13, 2020 1:53 pm

Have you seen Joe Flynn’s PPMT (Parallel Path Magnetic Technology) motor?

Smaller, lighter, runs cooler, more efficient and higher torque than conventional motors. It’s the best combination of permanent magnet motors and switched reluctance motors.

Reply to  Alastair gray
October 11, 2020 7:51 am

DC motors like permanent magnets – saves power, heat and weight, all of which are important for portable and mobile applications.

Superconductors at room temperature would work, too.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Alastair gray
October 11, 2020 9:33 am

“Why do vehicle electric motors and elrctric {sic} generators need permanent magnets.” Specifically, they are used (aka “needed”) to achieve both maximum torque and maximum power conversion efficiency.

There are many websites that discuss this in detail; here is one that gives a nice brief summary:,more%20powerful%20and%20more%20efficient.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Alastair gray
October 11, 2020 11:11 am

An induction motor does not generate VARS it has to import them
Synchronous motors are just induction motors with a power source attached to the rotor.
Permanent magnets replace this field supply to provide the excitation

Without external excitation and induction motor/generator is just a spinning mass of metal

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Alastair gray
October 11, 2020 8:26 pm

“Why do vehicle electric motors and elrctric generators need permanent magnets[?]”

Because they’re generally much more professional than temporary magnets.

Nick Schroeder
October 11, 2020 7:18 am

Mining makes an outstanding mess!!!
Consumes gigawatts!
Needs BIG bucks!!

Gordon A. Dressler
October 11, 2020 9:24 am

Here’s a real nit-pick for you, from the above article’s second paragraph statement “A team of geologists . . . have discovered a new hypothesis to predict . . .”

Does one, or a team, “discover” a new hypothesis, or instead just “formulate” one?

Please, no blow back on this, OK?

old engineer
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
October 11, 2020 12:11 pm


I don’t think it’s a nit-pick. That was my first reaction when I read the post. Maybe it shows the PR people who write these pieces have no understanding of science. One doesn’t “discover” an hypothesis, one formulates an hypothesis from what one discovers.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  old engineer
October 11, 2020 7:35 pm

I thought that hypotheses lived under rocks and one had to go around turning over rocks to find them. Hence the expression “No stone unturned in the search for better science!”

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
October 11, 2020 12:21 pm

Yes, they wrote that poorly.

Generally it is a discovery which then leads to formulating a hypothesis

Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
October 11, 2020 4:12 pm

I choked on that sentence too, Gordon.
However, I am less quick to blame PR teams.

It is irresponsible to allow important writing to reach the public without careful reading and approval.
Especially when people who do not understand the science yet think massive claims are wonderful manage to get their paws onto papers.

Nor is that sentence acceptable in a paper where other claims are dubious, at best.

Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
October 14, 2020 9:37 pm

I’m with you, the writer needs a basic science refresher course on the scientific method.

October 11, 2020 9:37 am

Hurray for Cornwall. The Phoenicians knew what was what, when they sailed to the Tin Islands. Once upon a time, during their diaspora, it was said that a Cornish tin miner could be found at the bottom of every hole around the world.

Reply to  Perry
October 11, 2020 11:05 am

And those Cornish miners who came to the iron mines in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan brought with them the pasty…mmmm good. A Thursday night staple when I was growing up.

October 11, 2020 10:45 am

My friend Jim Kennedy is an expert on REEs: US needs to change Thorium and Uranium rules to allow REE to thrive in the West.

Reply to  Walter J Horsting
October 11, 2020 11:07 am

Yes, REE deposits are most of the time associated with high concentration in Uranium and Thorium. This is one of the reason why REE is particularly problematic regarding the environment because you have to deal with these radioactive elements. There are of course appropriate ways to deal with it. However, the Chinese don’t care about it.

Reply to  Agamemnon
October 14, 2020 9:42 pm

The most appropriate way to deal with them is to use them in nuclear reactors! Can start using thorium in Candu reactors even today and later, hopefully not too much later, in molten salt thorium reactors. Please, government flunkies who like to throw trillions at green ‘solutions’, please throw some billions at some prototype reactors.

October 11, 2020 11:04 am

Rare earth elements (REE) are actually divided between heavy REE and light REE. China’s quasi monopoly has to deal mostly with HREE. Moreover, the type of deposits they are mostly dealing with comes from supergene alteration of A-type granites, already quite enriched in REE. Basically, Mother Nature did a big chunk of the dissolution and concentration job. That is why Chinese extraction operations are so competitive. I am not too worry that thorough exploration work will close the gap with the Chinese.

Paul Penrose
October 11, 2020 11:24 am

Lots of “may” and “could” conditionals in that press release. Nothing wrong with coming up with a hypothesis, but it doesn’t really mean that much until it is tested. I’ll put my enthusiasm on hold until then.

John F Hultquist
October 11, 2020 12:17 pm

I sense an echo arriving in 3, 2, . . .


October 11, 2020 12:38 pm

This might be useful for others to find REEs but all the processing must be done in China to satisfy the other condition of not in my back yard. Just so you know the REEs at the re-opened Mountain Pass project with Pentagon funding support must also be shipped off to China to be processed. The click and order mentality for support of the Climate Crusades will all flow through China. Of course Biden will spend 10x on research too and then end up sending the same stuff to China to be processed. It’s only funny money after all–buy now and don’t pay later.

Charles Higley
October 11, 2020 1:14 pm

“in order to try and identify potential deposits ”

Interesting turn of phrase that makes no sense. What does it mean to try? Try what? You try to identify something. “Try and identify” suggests two different activities.

It’s like saying, “I had my leg broken last week.” This implies that I opted to have my leg broken. Was it a needed medical procedure or were you looking to sue somebody and had a hired thug break your leg? The latter is fraud, BTW. “I had an accident last week and my leg was broken,” is more accurate most often.

Reply to  Charles Higley
October 11, 2020 5:08 pm

I’ve been seeing that bit of horrible grammar – substituting “and” where “to” should be – more and more lately. Including PhDs in LITERATURE. Meh.

Alastair gray
October 11, 2020 1:34 pm

Thanks Earthling.. thought it was something like that Can’f see that engine weightis important for Tesla if you are already hauling a tonne of battery .
do you have figures for efficiency of various motors . I was under the impression that an induction motor is fairlyefficient. Also for dynamos i assume that a steam or gas turbine powered power station does not use permanent magnets. Also with wind turbines whyputthe dynamo inthe nacelle? would it not more sense to put it on the ground and use a chain drive or hydraulic drive . Could find out myself online but you seem well informed and willing to share

Thomas Gasloli
October 11, 2020 1:45 pm

We need to change the group name for these. Rare earth elements are not actually rare in any meaningful sense. They are only relatively rare in relation to common elements like silica, calcium, aluminum. The use of the term “rare” is misleading and makes people think they really are rare and China has a monopoly on them. This is not true. Stop worrying about “rare” earth elements, they are everywhere.

October 11, 2020 3:31 pm

“A team of geologists, led by Professor Frances Wall from the Camborne School of Mines, have discovered a new hypothesis to predict where rare earth elements neodymium and dysprosium could be found.”

a) “have discovered”?
b) “a new hypothesis”?
c) “to predict”?

A) How does one “discover” a concept or theory?
B) “predict” is another way of stating “I guess”; a guess that could be because they believe or because they have a numbers system or whatever.

d) “could be found
D) No schist!? Could be found? Like, perhaps among the roots and debris of “very unusual extinct carbonatite volcanoes”?

Well, that is so perfectly normal to the current methods which I assume will still be needed. That is, drilling rock core explorations based upon knowledge and assaying the cores seeking the metals.

Alan M
Reply to  ATheoK
October 11, 2020 4:33 pm

Many a great “discovery” has disappeared after using the old “rotary lie detector”

Reply to  Alan M
October 11, 2020 6:53 pm

Alan M
October 11, 2020 at 4:33 pm

Yes, everyone knows: “Don’t drill it…you’ll kill it!”.

Reply to  Alan M
October 12, 2020 7:27 pm

Grin! Thumbs up!

Joe lori
October 11, 2020 3:43 pm

You do not ‘discover’ a hypothesis, you formulate it.

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