Researchers at Georgia State University discovered rare-earth elements in Georgia Kaolin mines.
"When we saw the results, it put smiles on both myself and my grad students, Daniel Gardner's face, and said wow we've got something really good here," says Dr. W. Crawford Elliott, senior author of the study and associate professor in the Department of Geosciences at Georgia State.
The minerals present were identified using X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy and chemical analysis. The findings, published in the journal Clays and Clay Minerals, suggest a new, potential source of rare-earth elements, including the less common heavy rare-earth elements.
What are they? The US Department of Energy calls them “technology metals.” They make possible the high-tech world we live in today – everything from the small electronics, to medical technologies, to supporting a number of essential telecommunications and defense systems.
This is significant showing that there is a new resource for rare earth elements. Most of them, if not all come from outside the United States. Elliott says, "this is another card that the U-S has in its hand should international relations become strained.