Georgia's Kaolin Mines Home To Rare Metals
Rare earth elements, which are found in the bottom two rows on a periodic table, have been found in kaolin mines in Middle Georgia.
Atomic numbers 57 through 71, known as the lanthanide group of elements, are metals used to make MRI and X-ray machines, electric cars, smartphones and magnets.
Crawford Elliott, a geosciences professor at Georgia State University, said finding them is just the first step.
"The question is how can you concentrate these rare earth elements so that you can make it mineable,” Elliott said. “So that you can extract these metals and bring them to market. And that's really the name of the game here."
Elliott said the metals were found in kaolin residue, which usually gets thrown out.
He said that could make the clay mines more profitable. Right now, about 90 percent of rare earth elements come from China.