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China Rare Earth challenges: the world's largest mine life of less than 20 years

According to data released by the U.S. Geological Survey in January 2010, China Baotou mine (the bastnaesite with monazite mixed mine) the Sichuan of mine (Bastnaesite) and Southern ion adsorption mine rare earth resources represented by 36 million tons (REO rare earth oxides, the same below), accounting for about 36% of the world. Although China's rare earth resources in the world, but the excessive consumption of resources, the production process pollution serious, efficient and sustainable use of resources has become a serious problem that must be addressed.

Baotou mine is the world's largest rare earth deposits, the symbiotic complex ore is typical of iron, rare earth, thorium, and other resources, including iron, rare earth and thorium content of approximately 34%, 5% to 6%, and 0.02%, respectively. Mine since mining has been, and always to the iron ore demand production quotas, the original ore mining has reached 12 million tons, has been mined for more than half of the main East mine rare earth main mine; at current extraction volume is expected mine life 20 years, less than 10% of the rare earth resource utilization, most of the rare earth is discharged into the tailings pond to form a scale of main East ore reserves, and the occurrence of the state and more complex components of the "artificial rare earth mine" . Fluorine, sulfur exhaust gas generated by the smelting process and high ammonia and high salinity wastewater to be dealt with by the end of treatment, the cost is higher, it is difficult to completely control. More severe radioactive thorium residues not containing added recycling and efficient use of the formation of a major pollution risks.

Southern ion adsorption-type rare earth mine in heavy rare earth (samarium, lutetium and yttrium) distribution of up to 30% -80%, which europium, terbium, dysprosium and other heavy rare earth elements partition is much higher than bastnaesite and monazite quarry, with absolute competitive advantage of strategic resources. The mine mainly uses a state-of-the-art in-situ leaching technology to extract and enrichment. However, the geological conditions of the effect on the recovery of rare earth, lead to the loss of rare earth resources and serious environmental pollution.

Rare earth separation by solvent extraction process, existing processes exist with the requirements of the State Environmental Protection gradually increase acid consumption, ammonia and radioactive pollution problems have become increasingly prominent national rare earth industrial pollutant emission standards, development can be achieved, "the new extraction system and efficient clean separation process is imperative.

Since 1988, China replaced the United States, France and other countries to become the world's largest rare earth producer and supplier to meet the world's demand for rare earth smelting and separation products, led to the separation of rare earth smelting industry of foreign enterprises to gradually withdraw from the competition. In recent years, with the domestic application of rare earth and the rapid increase in demand, and environmental requirements to improve and export policy adjustments, raise the price of rare earth raw materials, the export volume decreased. Western developed countries, on the one hand through diplomatic and political means to pressure the Chinese government, on the other hand increased manufacturing technology blockade of China's rare earth functional materials and devices, trying to continue to monopolize the high-end rare earth products and applications market. At the same time, the strong momentum of new and restart rare earth production projects abroad are likely to form a competitive situation with China in recent years.

This report attempts to the basis of analysis of rare earth resources at home and abroad, production, application status, to explore some of the key issues in the rare earth science and technology and industrial development, aimed at China's rare earth resources green, efficient, high value and sustainable utilization of technology development and policy makers to provide the reference recommendations.

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China Rare Earth challenges: the world's largest mine life of less than 20 years

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