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Towards a Rare Earth Industry Environmental Footprint
Presented by Gwendolyn Bailey, KU Leuven

Rare Earth Elements (REEs) are one of the most important--albeit critical--commodities for our sustainable technologies. However, these rare earths are widely thought to be produced in a notoriously unsustainable fashion. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is the desired methodology to evaluate the impacts of rare earth oxide (REO) production. This study aims to provide a synthesis of the currently existing LCA studies on REEs using two strategies. Firstly, an overview of published LCA results of REO production has been given. Secondly, a detailed LCA has been conducted using the best available life cycle inventories in order to: i). evaluate the state-of-the-art LCI for this sector ii). understand better the impacts related to each of the three main production routes in terms of data gaps, waste and allocation, iii). develop a new preliminary benchmark model for REEs. The presented analysis is an initial exercise for users wishing to evaluate scenarios and ranges of environmental performance of rare earth oxides but it could also be useful as an input in assessing impacts of REEs based products. The speaker and research team gathered primary data of a commercial rare earth mining and extraction operation, and considered a cohesive set of modelling requirements to design an initial state-of-the-art model.

This is a public webinar.

Aug 21, 2019 12:00 PM in Mountain Time (US and Canada)

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Gwendolyn Bailey
Ph.D. Candidate
Gwendolyn Bailey is a PhD candidate at KU Leuven University studying Sustainable Materials Science with a concentration on Rare Earth Elements. Gwendolyn received her MSc degree in environmental management and sustainability from Universite Catholique de l’Ouest in Angers, France in 2015. Since then, she has been working in KU Leuven’s Department of Materials Engineering and Metallurgy as a Marie Skłodowska Curie Fellow focusing on life cycle assessment, life cycle costing and other sustainability assessments. She is involved in the project DEMETER which is a Horizons2020 project on recycling of rare earth permanent magnet motors. Gwendolyn is also involved in the coordination and life cycle research management of a EIT Raw Materials funded project called REIA, or Rare Earth Industry Association.