Re: Hmm fails the Tim Worstall Test.
"TBH the content doesn't seem as well argued or convincing as the more in-depth and thought-provoking analysis he used to present here."
Entirely true, here I was well paid - for which thanks - to do so. There, not so much as yet. Thus volume and rather less in any particular piece.
As to this basic idea. Yes, lots of REs in that waste. I've talked, as part of other work, to a few people looking at it. It's entirely and absolutely possible to extract. Would be a reasonable place to get my beloved scandium. Heap leaching would be a good way. A new and different acid? Sure, might be better, might not be. It's the price of doing it that matters.
One thing, no, they're not saying that this new method is selective. Rather, they started with artificial simulacrums of the real material, each sample doped with an individual RE. Which was then extracted. Using this method on the real stuff would give you a concentrate of all the REs. You can peel off the Sc and Y easily by chemical means. But all the rest have to go through one of those girt big RE plants which cost a $ billion each, minimum.
There's also significant U and Th contamination, as noted above. Which doesn't worry so much, it's the daughter products of their breakdown which do. Radium is not nice stuff and it is indeed in there as a result. Yes, really, I've talked to such people.
The real and actual trick of RE extraction would be to find a new method of doing that separation of the lanthanides. If you could do it on a smaller scale (weird but true) in smaller batches then you could take wastes from a wide variety of industrial processes. Stuff that already exists and is just thrown away today. The problem being that if you need a billion $ plant to do it then you want an input stream that is large enough, homogenous enough, to feed into a billion $ plant. If you've smaller processing plant (s) then you can use smaller batches, more heterogenous ones, as your inputs.
There is a candidate technology to do this but no one really wants to spend $50 million to try it out.