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Less than half a century ago the rare earth elements were classed as minor metals - who had even heard of neodymium, now essential in the production of powerful rare earth permanent magnets, used in wind turbines and many other applications? Lithium was essentially a curiosity, the third element in the Periodic Table, and the lightest metal. Now, of course it is in high demand for light, powerful batteries, and the increasing prevalence of electric cars will increase the demand for this once minor metal. The rare earths and lithium are primary mined, but some of the once minor metals, such as gallium, germanium and indium, which are essential for our modern way of life, are by-products of base metal mining.
The importance of all these metals cannot be overestimated and Developments in the Processing of the Hi-Tech Metals will be MEI's first international conference dealing with the mineral processing and extractive metallurgy of these metals, and the environmental problems that are often associated with their extraction.
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