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Each year an estimated 56,000 metric tons (t) of rare earth elements (REEs), including 23,000 t of heavy REEs (HREEs), are mined, beneficiated, and put into solution, but not recovered, by operations associated with the global phosphate fertilizer industry. Importantly, the REEs in sedimentary phosphorites are nearly 100% extractable, using technologies currently employed to meet global phosphate fertilizer needs. Our evaluation suggests that by-product REE production from these phosphate mines could meet global REE requirements. For example, the calculated REE flux accompanying phosphate production in the United States is approximately 40% of the world’s total and, alone, could supply...

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