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.