Last Update: 31 MAY, 2012 | Out of the limelight but deep in significance, this case study examines the world’s supply of these other natural resources that help make modern life and technology what it is today. As with extraction and development for fuels like oil and natural gas, with increasingly sophisticated technology, more minerals are able to be reached than were previously economically feasible. Related is the expanded environmental consequences from increased searching for and extraction of such valuable items. As the demand for more advanced technology continues to expand, the competition for access to and production of these items will continue to become another factor as the 21st century progresses.
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What are “Rare Earths”?
Rare Earths is a more common way to reference “Rare Earth Elements”, of which there are 17. Rare Earth Minerals are clusters of these elements together. Elliot Brennan explains:
The name, rare earth element, is a misnomer. The elements are far more abundant than many precious minerals. Yet their dispersion means they are rarely found in economically viable quantities. There are 17 REEs – 15 lanthanides, and scandium and yttrium. The 15 lanthanide elements occupy atomic numbers 57 to 71 on the periodic table. The similarity of their chemical properties, demonstrated by their close proximity on the table, makes them very difficult to separate. Their extraction is capital- and skill- intensive. – Asia Times Online :: Rare earths – the next oil
Rare Earths 2011 Conference
So as the prices of rare earth oxides have increased on average 150% since Q3 2010, the rare earth race continues, and downstream producers hang in the balance.
Controversy and Exploitation
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Rare Earths, Minerals, Metals & Mining Timeline
OCT13 SEPT 14-16, Rare Earths 2011 Conference The Anchor House, Inc. » Blog Archive » Metal Pages China Conference Report “In contrast to last year’s Minor Metals and Rare Earth conference, which welcomed one hundred fifty delegates, the 2011 rare earth-exclusive event (minor metals had their own conference earlier in the week) topped 300 participants. Nigel Tunna, managing director of Metal Pages, organized the program to address the “major issues affecting the rare earth market including Chinese policy and supply, the status of new production, recycling, new uses and the influence that the price increase has had on its consumption.””
MAR16 Asia Times Online :: Rare earths – the next oil “Former Chinese president Deng Xiaoping recognized the importance of rare earth elements (REEs) almost two decades ago. “The Middle East has oil and China has rare earth,” he said in 1992. His foresight was impressive. …”
Looking ahead, Quantum Rare Earth Developments Corp’s (CVE:QRE) (OTCQX:QREDF) president Peter Dickie is “greatly encouraged”, after last week’s significant increase in resources at the company’s Elk Creek niobium rare earth element project in southeastern Nebraska.
MAY27 Otero Mesa; Fight Over Rare Earths Threatens a Desert Bio-Gem | The Energy Collective. “An essential mineral ingredient used in a variety of electronics from cell phones to smart bombs could be a death knell for a pristine part of a wild New Mexico desert grassland coveted by environmentalists—and considered sacred to Native Americans.
That ingredient—rare earth elements—is at the heart of a recent battle to protect one of the crown jewels of the southwest, the Otero Mesa, a unique desert environment that sits atop one of the largest untapped fresh water aquifers in the state. “
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Jesse Parent studied International Relations at SUNY Geneseo and is preparing for a Nanoscience degree. His research focuses on Energy, Technology, Resources, Geopolitics, and Sustainability. For more of Jesse’s thoughts throughout the week and to see what news he’s following, you are invited to join the conversation via Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr. Visit INFLUENCE with Jesse Parent to view Case Studies, Reports, Editorials and more.