The need for so called economically strategic raw materials (e. g. rare-earth elements, Co, Mo, Re, Sb, platinum metals…) multiplied in the last couple of years. As raw material for high-tech-products such as electric vehicles, energy-saving lamps and wind power plants they are especially influenced by the energy transition, which will cause a rising demand in the next few years. The mining of rare earths for example was dominated by China. But new mines will be (or are already) located in Australia, North America, South Africa and maybe even in Germany. Mining and ore processing industries generally have a huge environmental impact and are therefore objects of environmental research. As mining activities are at an early stage we know less about the environmental behavior of rare earths and their quantitation (mobilization, bioavailability, ecological toxicity).
One first project deals with the bioavailability of gadolinium and yttrium in maize plants.
Researches into exploitation of resources from tailings (mine dumps) in Central Germany are planned as well. Regarding the understanding of mechanisms of mobilization the speciation analysis of the considered metals plays a major role. Innovative leaching procedures will give information about mobilization reactions.