Rare earth elements (REE) are essential components used in everyday and industrial applications, from cell phones and televisions to computers and automobiles. They are also crucial for clean energy, aerospace, defence, and manufacturing permanent magnets. Recently, the Hyderabad-based National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) discovered large deposits of 15 REEs in Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur district.
Discovery of REEs in Anantapur District
During a survey for non-traditional rocks, including syenites, NGRI scientists discovered the minerals in the lanthanide series. The elements that were identified include allanite, ceriate, thorite, and columbite, among others. 5.9 million tonne lithium reserve is also found by Geological Survey in India (GSI)
Feasibility Studies To be Conducted
NGRI scientists observed zircon of varying shapes in the Anantapur district, while monazite grains showed high-order various colours with radial cracks within grains, suggesting the presence of radioactive elements. The scientists plan to conduct more feasibility studies through deep drilling to learn more about these REEs. They have already put 300 samples through further studies to understand the potential of REE minerals.
Potential Applications of REEs
REEs are widely used in high technology due to their luminescent and catalytic properties. They are also crucial components in manufacturing permanent magnets. According to NGRI scientists, the assessment of REEs with implications for metallogeny is currently underway at alkaline syenite complexes in Andhra Pradesh.
The usage of rare earth elements has a great potential in modern technology.
- Neodymium- used in making powerful magnets
- Lanthanum- used in making camera and telescope lenses
- Cerium- used in making catalytic convertors in cars, also used in process of refining crude oil
- Praseodymium – used in making strong metals for aircraft engines
- Yttrium/terbium/Europium- used in making screen of TV and computers
The recent discovery of lithium in Jammu and Kashmir is also very significant. And if India is able to harness that we can achieve great manufacturing capacity. Moreover, the capacity and scientific advancement in the discovery of these elements will also help the country.
Therefore, this is an optimistic situation for the country, which will enable more such studies.