Project Kvanefjeld ›› Crash-course on rare earth metals
Kvanefjeld, South Greenland. Driling for rare earth metals

Crash-course on rare earth metals

Rare earth metals are a group of specialty metals with unique physical, chemical and lighting properties. An example is neodymium, which is used to produce magnets used in wind turbine industry, and batteries for hybrid cars.

This group of metals comprise of 15 elements called lanthanides: lanthanum, cerium, praseodym, promethium (does not occur naturally), neodymium, samarium, europium, adolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium and lutetium. The elements yttrium and scandium are also included, since they have similar chemical properties, so there is a total of 17 rare earth metals.

Many electrical products are powered by rechargeable batteries. One of the most efficient types of rechargeable batteries are nickel metal hydride (NiMH) used in hybrid cars and other electronic products. The alloy used for the battery's positive terminal, consist of rare earth metals and represent 26 percent of the battery weight.


Many consumer goods depend on the rare earth metals unique properties. Rare earth metals are used in wind turbines, hybrid cars, rechargeable batteries, cell phones, plasma and LCD televisions, laptops, hard drives and catalysts. A catalyst is a device mounted in the exhaust of an internal combustion engine in order to minimize its harmful emissions.

The rare earth metals are used to produce the world's strongest permanent magnets used in electric motors.