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Quantifying Environmental Impact in Rare Earth Value Chains

On June 10th 2021, Prospex Institute co-organised and moderated an EU Green Week roundtable to share knowledge and best practices on life-cycle assessment approaches in the rare earth sector. The event was organised as part of the Horizon 2020 project SecREEts (GA No 776559), in collaboration with the Horizon 2020 project SUSMAGPRO (GA No 821114) with the support of REIA, the Rare Earth Industry Association.

The event took place online, attracting about 130 participants from all over the world who engaged in a fruitful discussion with panellists representing different EU-funded initiatives including SecREEts, SUSMAGPRO, REIA, MaXycle, ORIENTING, MINVIRO. Our colleague Clara Boissenin co-moderated the event on behalf of Prospex Institute, who leads the Public Engagement, Dissemination and Communication activities of the SecREEts project.

The conversation centred around the most challenging issues faced by the rare earth sector in monitoring their environmental impact, such as: how to quantify environmental and climate impacts in rare earth value chains through Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), what are the best practices in these methodologies, what data is available and what is missing, and what should a global standard or sustainability framework for rare earth value chains look like?

The main conclusions were that a key priority in the complex rare earth value chains in Europe is sustainability and that the sector needs a standardised procedure for the quantification through LCA. To achieve this, the REE sector needs to develop a framework for data collection and modelling and to gather factual data. Hence, there is a need for a glossary, standards and guidelines, data securing and protocol that can lead to greater transparency, traceability, and sustainable quantification.


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