The United Kingdom government has announced a major investment in technologies and techniques for recycling rare earth elements. Rare earth metals or elements are a group of 17 minerals that play a crucial role in the production of consumer electronics, computing equipment, medical imaging, defense systems and more.
As more countries move toward clean, renewable energy in a bid to combat climate change, rare metals will be critical in the development of electric vehicles (EVs) and clean-energy technologies. Essential rare metals include cerium, neodymium, scandium and yttrium. Demand for these metals is poised to surge in the coming years as countries phase out internal combustion engine vehicles in favor of zero-emission EVs and increase investment in wind and solar energy.
Countries will have to ensure they can deal with the influx of rare earth metals from old electronics while keeping to their climate change and environmental goals. The $17.9 million in funding from the UK government would allow for research into state-of-the-art approaches to recycling rare earth metals.
Rare earth element mines can pollute the environment by leaking heavy metals, acids and radioactive material into the groundwater. Furthermore, dust and waste rock from the mines, which are usually immense open pits in the ground, can contaminate local soils and disrupt ecosystems.
Coming up with innovative recycling technologies would reduce pollution from rare earth metals once the products they are in are eventually discarded. Additionally, these technologies could allow producers to recycle and reuse rare elements from old electronics and reduce the need to mine more volumes of rare earth metals.
Minister of State at the Department for Business and Trade Nusrat Ghani noted that these elements play a silent but major role in our day-to-day lives. As such, she said that it is important for the UK to safeguard the supply chain and ensure it is resilient enough to withstand geopolitical and economic events.
Since rare earth production is dominated by a few countries and its supply chains are volatile and complex, the UK is vulnerable to geopolitical events. Ghani pointed out how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted global supply chains and caused energy prices to soar as an example of the need for safeguarding all parts of the UK’s supply chain.
Investing in top-notch recycling technology for rare earth elements would allow the UK to secure its supply chains amid a growing green economy and deliver plenty of jobs to UK residents for decades, Ghani concluded.
Meanwhile, several enterprises based elsewhere, such as Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSX.V: UCU) (OTCQX: UURAF), are focusing on developing technology to make the extraction and processing of these vital metals more cost effective and less harmful to the environment. As those technologies gain widespread use, this niche could serve as a shining example of eco-friendly mining.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSX.V: UCU) (OTCQX: UURAF) are available in the company’s newsroom at http://ibn.fm/UURAF
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