b'Technology INNOVATION & DEPLOYMENTPulling Treasure from Mining Waste Rare-earth elements (REEs) are a class of metallic elements necessary for the manufacture of many high-tech devices including cellphones, computers and wind turbines. REEs are difficult to obtain, and the U.S. currently does not produce a domestic supply, leaving manufacturers vulnerable to supply disruptions. But large amounts of REEs exist in phosphogypsum (PG), a waste product from phosphate mining. To recover rare-earth elements from PG, INL researchers studied a common bacterium found readily in the environment, including on rotting fruit. It makes organic acids that dissolve the REEs from the surrounding materiala process called bioleaching. The REEs could then be precipitated from the solution and purified for industrial use. 22'