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Rare earths note

So this company confirms a substantial rare earths find. The shares drop 15%.

Nope, it’s a lovely rare earths find. High in magnet metals, in an ionic clay (which has markedly lower processing costs) and, well, you know, super.

It’s just that there are some 10 or so companies announcing ionic clay finds in Australia alone over the past two months alone.

That’s the not-very-rare-earths then.

As I’ve been saying, Earth’s a big place. All of it made up of some combination of the same 92 elements. We’ve really not got a shortage of anything very much. Therefore prices based upon assuming a shortage aren’t likely to persist.

10 thoughts on “Rare earths note”

  1. Just so we’re all on the same page, Tim. What makes a clay “ionic” as opposed to any other clay?

  2. Thanks Tim. Everything’s now as clear as mud. Easily leachable, high magnetic RE, ionic clay mud.

  3. OK – so. Rare earths often turn up in granites and such like. Which often enough get weathered down. Into clays. Cool so some clays will have REs. China clay does, tho’ small amounts. In fact these sorts of clays are “kaolinites” but not necessarily kaolin.

    The ionic refers to whether the REs are there as ions – electrically charged or not. That’s what makes them easily leachable…..some are, some aren’t. Or rather, in every deposit some are and some aren’t and when lots are we call it an ionic clay. We always know that some to much won’t be, that leaching will leave a lot of the right element but in the wrong form in the gangue (ie, the waste). The question is always can we get enough out to make getting out worthwhile?

  4. One presumes by “ionic” you mean not chemically bonded to an element where the bonds are difficult to break. Presumably, they’re OK as oxides or similar?

  5. ” Ionic clays are formed by the chemical weathering of REE-containing parent rocks, resulting in the mobilization of REE ions, and the enrichment of the REEs onto the clay surface by ion adsorption.”

  6. I’m surprised that the Stockhead article feels the need to mention the “aqua regia test” as something peeps use to say “There’s Stuff in there”..
    Seems there’s always an idiot looking for a bigger idiot.

    That stuff is useful in that it dissolves everything that can possibly dissolve, giving you a grand total of what’s in a test batch and a nice base marker for the effective yield of your ( presumably economic) extraction process. Plus some hints on how to optimise it.
    But otherwise?

  7. Suppose you dig up some Australian clay. Suppose you find some ancient human bones. As I understand it, the deal now in Oz is that the bones will be claimed by some local group of Abos who will then ensure that they can never be studied scientifically.

    So I suppose there’s really every reason for the miners just to throw the bloody things away.

  8. @BiS “One presumes by “ionic” you mean not chemically bonded to an element where the bonds are difficult to break. Presumably, they’re OK as oxides or similar?”

    Technically literally as ions. Usually in an equilibrium as hydroxide, phosphate or sulphate.
    Clay is funny stuff, and gets electrically charged. And acts as a catalyst on itself and whatever is near.
    A couple of eV is a tiny absolute amount, but at the nanometer scale (where this kind of interactions takes place) that tiny amount acts like a sizeable tesla coil throwing a tantrum.

    It’s one of the more headachy things you get to wrap your head around as a biologist when it comes to chemotrophs, abiogenesis, and “soil quality”.
    And why peeps got so enthousiastic about finding clay-derived rocks on Mars. No clay = no life.

  9. @dearime there’s an interview with the guy that owns the ‘Bone Yard’ a massive cache of fossils mammoth and other animals and he’s pretty blunt about keeping government out of the place. Talks about asking the New York museum about a fossils from his property that had been sent to them and found out they had dumped a load of fossils into the river awhile back as they were short of storage.

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