Rare earth elements contribute nearly $200 billion to the Indian economy, yet despite India having the world’s fifth largest reserves of critical metals, they mostly import their rare earth needs from China.
A new research project hopes to enable Australia to export rare earth minerals to India, as an alternative to China, as well as to empower India to establish eco-technologies to extract minerals and metals within their own borders.
The collaborative project, between the University of South Australia, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research – Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology, Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, and Indian Institute of Technology, is developing new ways to safely extract critical minerals from downstream ore processing, tailings reprocessing, and wastewater treatments. It is also developing mechanisms to safely recycle spent products from scrap batteries and magnets.
The University of South Australia's Dr Richmond Asamoah says the research will deliver benefits to both countries.
“We’re not only talking about environmental benefits, but also economical and sustainable technologies that both countries can use to extract rare earth and battery minerals from current mining operations,” Dr Asamoah says.
“Importantly, the research will build capacity for processing critical minerals in Australia and India and creating many new eco-efficient opportunities for economic growth, education, employment and investment.”
The project is funded by the Australian Government's Australia-India Strategic Research Fund.