Getting to Know Rare Earth Metals, the ‘Treasure’ of Lapindo Mud

Jakarta – Burst Lapindo mud which has not stopped for 16 years is said to contain a ‘treasure’. This economically valuable content is rare earth metal (LTJ) or rare earth element as well as lithium.

An independent research integrated team from the Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology (ITS) Surabaya once investigated the potential of the Lapindo mud and found lithium based on that research. According to the ITS Geologist, Amien Widodo, his party has actually been doing this research for a long time.

“In terms of ITS, the term is only preliminary research. We are only experimenting with a few points while seeing the results. We can’t do that yet, until it’s finished, we only see the lithium content of the mud,” explained Amien, quoted from detikjatim on Thursday (27/27). /01/2022).

Meanwhile, those who found rare earth metals (LTJ) in Lapindo mud is the Geological Agency of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources of the Republic of Indonesia. “The Geological Agency researched the term rare earth metal, rare metal. We analyzed the other one. We only analyzed the term lithium,” said Amien.

Rare Earth Element

According to the American Geosciences Institute, rare earth metals are a series of 17 elements which include the 15 lanthanides in the periodic table, plus scandium and yttrium. According to the US Geological Survey, there are more than 200 products that use rare earth metals, particularly technologies such as cell phones, flat-screen televisions, hybrid electric vehicles, and so on.

Although in fact rare earth metals have existed since the formation of the Earth, their existence was only realized at the end of the 18th century. As described in the Britannica, its discovery began when a Swedish Lieutenant Carl Axel Arrhenius discovered a black mineral in 1787 in Ytterby, a small town near Stockholm.

In 1803, the individual element that was isolated was cerium. Furthermore, the rare earth element that occurs naturally and was last discovered was lutetium, namely in 1907. During a period of 160 years (1787-1947), the separation and refining of rare earth metals was a difficult and very time consuming process.


Quoting from the Faculty of Mining and Petroleum Engineering, Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), lithium is the first alkali metal to be in group I of the periodic table.

Metal with atomic number 3 is also needed by modern society. Electronic items such as tablets, laptops, or smartphones, even hybrid vehicles require lithium-ion batteries.

This metal has a very low level of availability in the earth’s crust, reaching 21 g/g. In nature, lithium is not found naturally, but is generally found with other minerals.

Lithium production from the main rock currently comes from Australia, Brazil, Canada and Zimbabwe.

Potential of Rare Earth Metals and Lithium

As mentioned earlier, rare earth metals and lithium are widely needed in high-level technologies. In addition, as previously reported by detikjatim, the content of rare earth metals or rare earth element can be used for telecommunications technology, computers, the manufacture of electric vehicle batteries, and nuclear.

Quoted from detikfinance, Energy and Mining Law Observer Ahmad Redi said, lithium in large quantities can be used as a large raw material and has high economic value. To take advantage of the potential ‘treasure’ Lapindo mud According to him, factories and processing industries can be built.

He added that if there is an export interest, a domestic smelter is needed.

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