Neodymium is found most often in nature in Misch metal, monazite sand, and the mineral bastnasite. Due to the fact that these minerals and compounds also contain lanthanides and other rare earth elements, it is difficult to isolate neodymium. The process of neodymium isolation and extraction is highly complex; due to the complexity of the process, neodymium is never isolated on a small scale laboratory basis.
The first isolation process of neodymium involves extracting the lanthanides and metals out of the ores in their salt form. This step is carried out using sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid, and sodium hydroxide. To further isolation the neodymium from other lanthanides and metals, procedures such as solvent extractions and ion exchange chromatography are used. Once neodymium has been reduced to its fluoride form using these processes, it can be reacted with pure calcium metal in a heated chamber to form pure neodymium and calcium fluoride. Some calcium contaminants remain in the neodymium, and vacuum processes are used to remove any of these contaminants.