Rare Earth Elements Background


While comprising just 17 elements of the periodic table, the group known as rare earth elements (REEs) provides significant value to our national security, energy independence, environmental future, and economic growth.  REEs are found throughout the earth’s crust but most often occur in low concentrations.  They do not occur naturally in elemental form but in a variety of minerals and coal.  REE-bearing mineral deposits are relatively rich in either light rare earth elements (LREEs) or heavy rare earth elements (HREEs), with LREEs being more abundant.

The REEs include the lanthanides:  lanthanum (La), cerium (Ce), praseodymium (Pr), neodymium (Nd), promethium (Pm), samarium (Sm), europium (Eu), gadolinium (Gd), terbium (Tb), dysprosium (Dy), holmium (Ho), erbium (Er), thulium (Tm), ytterbium (Yb), lutetium (Lu) and transition elements: scandium (Sc) and yttrium (Y). Learn More

Program Overview

Program overview

The Rare Earth Elements Program is focused on developing technologies for the recovery of REEs from Coal and Coal By-products. The R&D program consists of process/production technologies, environmental management, sampling, characterization, and analysis, and system integration and optimization for the production of REEs from coal and coal by-products. The program offers a pathway to improve the economics and reduce the environmental impact of a domestic coal-based REE value chain. The development of an economically competitive supply of REEs will help to maintain our nation’s economic growth and national security. Our nation’s vast coal resources contain quantities of REEs that offer the potential to reduce our dependence on others for these critical materials and create new industries in regions where coal plays an important economic role. Learn More