Rare earth mineral discovery could make Australia a major player in electric vehicle supply chain

Supplies of a rare metal critical to building electric cars, smartphones and modern wind turbines will be boosted, after researchers identified a way to find new reserves of the mineral.

James Cook University (JCU) scientists from Townsville have uncovered the geological origins of dysprosium, a valuable rare earth mineral currently being mined in remote Western Australia.

Associate Professor at JCU’s Economic Geology Research Centre Carl Spandler said the metal would be critical to future improvements in the growth industries.

“Dysprosium in particular is an essential component for magnets for turbines and electric motors,” he said.

“Adding a little bit of dysprosium to the magnet allows the magnetism to be retained, even at very high temperatures.”

The current market price for dysprosium is $US235 a kilogram, having reached an all-time high of $US2,262 a kilogram in 2011.

James Cook University researchers Teimoor Nazari-Dehkordi and Carl Spandler say the find could dramatically increase known reserves of dysprosium.

James Cook University researchers Teimoor Nazari-Dehkordi and Carl Spandler say the find could dramatically increase known reserves of dysprosium.

Core samples tested

The research, which was published in September, analysed drilling samples came from the Northern Minerals’ Browns Range project, a mining lease covering some 3,500 square kilometres of the Tanami Desert east of Halls Creek and across the Northern Territory border.

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