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Iran to Industrialize Production of Rare-Earth Elements

Iran to Industrialize Production of Rare-Earth Elements

Iran announced on Tuesday that it is some steps away from industrializing production of rare-earth elements.

"The technology to produce rare-earth elements have become indigenized in Iran and we will enter the industrialization stage soon," Iranian Vice-President for Science and Technology Sorena Sattari said on Tuesday.

He added that 200 tons of rare-earth elements are imported to Iran annually, noting that production of these materials inside the country can save large amounts of foreign currency.

The 17 rare-earth elements are cerium (Ce), dysprosium (Dy), erbium (Er), europium (Eu), gadolinium (Gd), holmium (Ho), lanthanum (La), lutetium (Lu), neodymium (Nd), praseodymium (Pr), promethium (Pm), samarium (Sm), scandium (Sc), terbium (Tb), thulium (Tm), ytterbium (Yb) and and yttrium (Y). They are often found in minerals with thorium (Th), and less commonly uranium (U).

Despite their name, rare-earth elements are – with the exception of the radioactive promethium – relatively plentiful in Earth's crust, with cerium being the 25th most abundant element at 68 parts per million, more abundant than copper. However, because of their geochemical properties, rare-earth elements are typically dispersed and not often found concentrated in rare-earth minerals; as a result economically exploitable ore deposits are less common.