The common people have probably never heard of rare earths, although these terms will be used multiple times in the medium term. So much so that they are part of the economic supply between the two largest trading powers, China and the United States.
The environmental impacts caused by the extraction of rare earths are severe for the planet but are not considered too high. This is because the commercial value of these items is very high. According to the element’s requirement to extract the value of the bin, the value ranges from $ 50,000 to $ 1 million.
What are the rare lands?
Rare earths contain elements from the periodic table, from which raw materials for high technology are obtained. In fact, every day people use products made from elements extracted from rare earths.
Since the first element extracted from these countries is lanthanum, they are also known as lanthanum lands. However, there are 15 items that can be extracted. They are: lanthanum, lutetium, ytterbium, thulium, erbium, holmium, dysprosium, terbium, gadolinium, europium, samarium, promethium, neodymium, praseodymium and cerium. They are items that are used for different purposes. The main uses for these elements include: solar and wind power, computers, cell phones, pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
Although they are referred to as rare earths, they are present in the geography of many countries around the world. However, it is very difficult to find a vein that is in its pure state. One of the drawbacks is that the extraction is very expensive and is extracted rarely enough to cover the cost. Another problem the mining industry faces is the contamination of the land with thorium or uranium, which renders mining unusable.
In which parts of the world can they be found?
One of the countries where they are most common is China as it owns more than 50% of the entire planet’s reserves. For this reason, the international rare earth domain belongs to this trading power.
China owns more than 80% of world production, although Vietnam and Brazil also produce and export rare earths, albeit on a much smaller scale. Production is so important that batteries for cell phones and laptops, fluorescent lights, and even the defense of countries depend on it.
Uses and uses in the modern world
Rare earths were discovered in the 17th century, but their industrial use began after the end of World War II. Originally it was used exclusively by the oil industry and in the search for renewable energies.
With the advent of the digital age and new technologies, rare earths have become indispensable. The cameras that smartphones have use lanthanum as a basic element. Rechargeable batteries use cerium, laser crystals holmium, neodymium and dysprosium.
As new technologies advance, you will hear more and more talk about rare earths. The elements it contains became as indispensable as iron and copper during the industrial revolution. The difference lies in the difficulty of extraction, which makes the element more expensive