Engineering 101

Eco-mining for Rare Earths

Globally, rare earth elements are highly hazardous to extract, causing significant environmental challenges. Researchers at the University of South Australia are finding ways to transform the recovery of rare earth elements and other vital battery metals. Dr. Richmond Asamoah from UniSA’s Future Industry Institute is innovating ways to safely extract critical minerals from downstream ore processing, tailings reprocessing, and wastewater treatments and developing mechanisms to recycle spent products from scrap batteries and magnets.

The project will test two metal recovery processes – resin in pulp, and resin in moist mix – to extract target metals from low-grade ores, fine minerals, and wastes such as tailings. The processes can remove harmful substances from water and soils to minimize environmental impact. Funded by the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund, Dr. Asamoah says that the research will benefit both countries.

Currently, rare earth elements contribute nearly $200 billion to the Indian economy; however, they import most of their rare earth from China.

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