Rare earth elements

The list of rare earth elements groups together 17 metallic elements of which small traces are found in most natural environments. Due to their electronic, magnetic, optical and catalytic properties, these elements are highly sought-after in the new technologies sector. Consequently, they are now considered to be part of what is known as "strategic metals".
10 January 2017
Cover of the thematic file

Cover of the thematic file.

© BRGM 

Rare earth elements, a group of strategic metals

Contrary to what their name suggests, rare earth elements are actually more abundant in the earth's crust than gold or silver. They have been in common use since the 1970s and are now omnipresent in everyday objects that symbolise technological progress. From computers to cars, rare earth elements are used in the manufacturing process of many different products.

The geological origin of rare earth elements

Whether heavy or light rare earth elements, in surface or deep-underground deposits, easily accessible or difficult to extract, the science of geology tells us all about the world's major deposits.

Developing recycling to reduce shortages

Recycling rare earth elements is one of the ways to mitigate the Chinese monopoly in the market and reduce the environmental impact of treatment processes. BRGM is studying innovative solutions to speed up the development of an economy based on recycling.

Geoscience challenges No. 28