(Submitted by Team-Member, Mikky.)
Some metals are more necessary for our survival than the rest. Bronze Ages ,Iron Ages , have all passed and now its the age of Rare Earths probably because our life is nullified without these metals’ existence. Rare earth elements are the 17 elements in the periodic table, mainly all the elements in the Lanthanide Series apart from Scandium and Yttrium. These elements are sought by all the manufacturers of electronic devices.The name suggests a serious fallacy, these elements aren’t really so rare though some of them are among the 17 elements. These rare earths contribute to the lot of devices we use today, devices that use magnets ( your sennheisers do use neodymium) , Windmills using europium, dysprosium, neodymium etc which is vital for the renewable energy sectors, iPhones using rare earth phosphors for the bright screens and the list is endless.
Rare earths, that have become such a vital part of our life, like petroleum, are going the same way as the petroleum politico-economics. Like OPEC cartels petroleum, China cartels rare earths as it is the largest supplier of these elements in the world. No, the story wasn’t this earlier, until when China exploited its rare earth geomorpho-miracle in its Inner Mongolian strip and outpaced the production to foreign competitors. Chinese are the top exporter of rare earth elements at 97% of global exports because along with their government’s cooperation they were able to price the rare earths so low in the international market that no foreign competitor could stand against it. Through the dominance in exports, China earned the complete control over the pricing of rare earth elements. The production of these elements were so huge in China that erstwhile leaders like Brazil and South Africa were belittled in their production and made their companies go out of business because they weren’t having the feasible price to compete against the Chinese.