Exploration, Recovery, and Purification of Rare Earth Elements

Researchers at Montana Tech are using Montana as a model for finding and processing Rare Earth Elements (REEs) in an environmentally benign way. Montana Technological University’s longstanding expertise in geology, mining, mineral processing, metallurgy, and materials research positions it well to tackle this challenge. Ongoing and emerging research will demonstrate that REEs can be produced economically — even from undesirable mining wastes — without environmental damage, thus reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign-based supply chains. These activities will contribute substantially to the knowledge base essential to reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign-based supply chains for REEs. REEs are essential to numerous advanced technologies vital to national security and industrial competitiveness. Despite having significant natural deposits within our borders, America lacks active domestic supply chains and foreign domination of the REE market holds the U.S. Armed Forces and numerous U.S. high-tech industries hostage to foreign trade decisions. This research program will lay the groundwork for economically and environmentally utilizing sound domestic REE sources to escape dependence on foreign REE sources and ensure America’s continuing strategic dominance.

For more information on REE research at Montana Tech, please contact Dr. Ron White, Director of the Center for Advanced Materials Processing or Dr. John Metesh, Director of the Montana Bureau of Mines & Geology.