Thirty elements divided into the Lanthanide and Actinide Series. Never heard of any on the first list and only Uranium and Plutonium on the second list. And depending on your source anywhere upwards of 75% of the world's supply can be found in Inner Mongolia and controlled by the Chinese who say their goal is to attract high tech manufacturing to the area, not to dominate the market. Right.
Sample comments: "The industry aims to enact an annual export quota of 35,000 tons and perhaps ban at least five types." or "We do not focus on short-term gains in rare-earth prices." or "It will certainly highlight to the world that these metals are strategic."
Rare earth is used in computers, mobile phones, high-density magnets, low-energy light bulbs, computer disk drives, electric motors, lasers and catalytic converters. However, they have gained importance with the expansion of the hybrid car industry as tiny amounts of rare-earth metals can drastically improve battery performance.
In the U.S. concentrates are significantly mined in Mountain Pass, California. Japan is developing alternative sources in Kazakhstan and Vietnam. Western Australia has also developed a project. Bottom line, however, is that China accounts for 95% of global production, about 60% of consumption according to the U.S. Geological Survey and it supplies more than 90 per cent of rare earths used by U.S. industry.
It is easy to see the economic effect of this resource located strategically in one place with what we might call other piddling supplies.
Not sure that you have found this interesting, but for most of us I trust it's never a wasted day if we get a good laugh and learn something. We'll add a little more detail later because it appears that this is beginning to get more media attention.
See you tomorrow-