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Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5094

Rare Earth Elements—End Use and Recyclability

By Thomas G. Goonan

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Rare earth elements are used in mature markets (such as catalysts, glassmaking, lighting, and metallurgy), which account for 59 percent of the total worldwide consumption of rare earth elements, and in newer, high-growth markets (such as battery alloys, ceramics, and permanent magnets), which account for 41 percent of the total worldwide consumption of rare earth elements. In mature market segments, lanthanum and cerium constitute about 80 percent of rare earth elements used, and in new market segments, dysprosium, neodymium, and praseodymium account for about 85 percent of rare earth elements used. Regardless of the end use, rare earth elements are not recycled in large quantities, but could be if recycling became mandated or very high prices of rare earth elements made recycling feasible.

Posted July 2011

For additional information contact:
Thomas G. Goonan
U.S. Geological Survey
Box 25046
Denver Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225–0046
Telephone: (303) 236–5209
Fax: (303) 236–4208

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Suggested citation:

Goonan, T.G., 2011, Rare earth elements—End use and recyclability: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2011-5094, 15 p., available only at




End Uses for Rare Earth Elements

Mature Market Sectors



Metallurgy (Excluding Battery Alloy)


Developing Market Sectors


Neodymium-Iron-Boron Magnets

Battery Alloys

Other (Unspecified)


References Cited

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