FAISALABAD    -   University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) in collaboration with Jeonbuk National University (JBNU) of Korea and National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) has made a breakthrough to utilise rare earth elements for the development of high technology for many modern devices in Pakistan that will redress the import bill worth billions of rupees. 

The task-leader Dr Sadia Ilyas revealed the importance of the study in terms of low energy emissions and efficient metal recovery and informed further that semi-commercial scale research project was conducted in Korea with the support of National Research Foundation and it would be replicated in Pakistan and could be equally beneficial due to similarity of indigenous monazite resources of both countries. Dr Ilyas informed that a part of the research output had been published in Journal of Cleaner Production, a top-five ranked international journal under the category of environmental science.

Dr Sadia Ilyas said although Pakistan was exploiting its rare earth reserves at present but the newly developed technology could be applicable to the low grades ores which remained unexploited till date and would help to contribute in the economy of Pakistan. The hybrid technology is developed involving bio-assisted leaching followed by Solvo-Chemical Recovery process for the exploitation of indigenous Korean monazite. 

The group leader, Prof Hyunjung Kim informed that the study approached cleaner production of high purity rare earth elements under the United Nation (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The process can potentially contribute to mitigating the supply risks of REEs by cleaner processing of low-grade monazite with the applications of re-useable organic extractants. He mentioned that in both countries, the rare earth resources were vein deposited or low grade so need efficient technological development. Current hybrid technology can contribute significantly in economy of both countries.