Nope those are not the names of some obscure Greek god…..but rather something that is extremely useful….those “rare earth minerals”….
Just what about these minerals that makes them so important?
Rare earth elements are a group of seventeen chemical elements that occur together in the periodic table (see image). The group consists of yttrium and the 15 lanthanide elements (lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, and lutetium). Scandium is found in most rare earth element deposits and is sometimes classified as a rare earth element. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry includes scandium in their rare earth element definition.
Rare earth metals and alloys that contain them are used in many devices that people use every day such as computer memory, DVDs, rechargeable batteries, cell phones, catalytic converters, magnets, fluorescent lighting and much more.
During the past twenty years, there has been an explosion in demand for many items that require rare earth metals. Twenty years ago very few people owned a mobile phone, but today over 5 billion people own a mobile device. The use of rare earth elements in computers has grown almost as fast as cell phones.
But the most important part of their usage is for national defense…..
Rare earth elements play an essential role in our national defense. The military uses night-vision goggles, precision-guided weapons, communications equipment, GPS equipment, batteries, and other defense electronics. These give the US military an enormous advantage. Rare earth metals are key ingredients for making the very hard alloys used in armored vehicles and projectiles that shatter upon impact.
Substitutes can be used for rare earth elements in some defense applications; however, those substitutes are usually not as effective and that diminishes military superiority.
Defense Uses of Rare Earth Elements
|Neodymium||laser range-finders, guidance systems, communications|
|Europium||fluorescents and phosphors in lamps and monitors|
|Erbium||amplifiers in fiber-optic data transmission|
|Samarium||permanent magnets that are stable at high temperatures|
|Samarium||“white noise” production in stealth technology|
Now that I have brought my reader up to speed on rare earth minerals I will now explain why I brought all this up…(as if you have to ask)…..
I have written about this several times….it helps explain why we do what we do in some of these endless wars……https://lobotero.com/2019/06/04/it-is-about-rare-earth/
Damn that took longer than I anticipated…..trying to give you all the facts that can help explain this next part…..
The US wants to end its dependency on REM from China….but it may not be that easy…..
The United States wants to curb its reliance on China for specialized minerals used to make weapons and high-tech equipment, but it faces a Catch-22.
It only has one rare earths mine – and government scientists have been told not to work with it because of its Chinese ties.
The mine is southern California’s Mountain Pass, home to the world’s eighth-largest reserves of the rare earths used in missiles, fighter jets, night-vision goggles and other devices.
But the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has told government scientists not to collaborate with the mine’s owner, MP Materials, the DOE’s Critical Materials Institute told Reuters.
This is because MP Materials is almost a tenth-owned by a Chinese investor and relies heavily on Chinese sales and technical know-how, according to the company.
Our longest war…Afghanistan…..could it have anything to do with the duration of this conflict?
After more than a decade of war and nation building, members of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan are heading for the exits. Although what ISAF will leave behind is better than what was there in 2001, Afghanistan remains a battered land. However, the resources Afghanistans land holds copper, cobalt, iron, barite, sulfur, lead, silver, zinc, niobium, and 1.4 million metric tons of rare-earth elements (REEs) may be a silver lining.
U.S. agencies estimate Afghanistans mineral deposits to be worth upwards of $1 trillion. In fact, a classified Pentagon memo called Afghanistan the Saudi Arabia of lithium. (Although lithium is technically not a rare earth element, it serves some of the same purposes.)
Does Afghanistan hold the key to breaking our dependency on China for these minerals and our continued production?
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