Among the Many Uses
Rare earth elements are used in the production of many products – from consumer types and even up to weaponries.
The screens from which you use to read this article are made from rare elements like yttrium, europium, and terbium, the US Geological Survey said. The same combinations of those elements are also used to power up iPhones and other smartphone products.
The digital and cellphone camera lenses, meanwhile, are made using lanthanum. Lanthanum alloys are also of great importance in the electric-vehicle industry as they are made to manufacture rechargeable batteries.
The rise on the global demand for EVs is a direct implication of an increasing demand to mine those rare earths.
Aside from handheld devices to cars, rare earths also find their way into missiles, jets, and satellites.
The US Department of Defense, for instance, reportedly uses these sought-after elements in the production of its jet engines, missile-guidance and defense systems, as well as satellite and communication systems.
The Air Force Magazine cited data from the US Defense Department saying that each F-35 jet is comprised of up to 920 pounds of different materials made from different rare earths.
China’s Trump Card?
Experts have long been wary on America’s reliance on China’s rare earths which, according to them, could one day be used as a weapon against the other.
And they couldn’t be more correct. On May, China has been throwing off clear signals that it might finally slam its rare-earth trump card on the table. By issuing the importation ban on these minerals, the American tech and defense manufacturing industries will be severely affected.
Beijing has been clear on its intention to use whatever means necessary to quell down any threats that could threaten the country’s progress and development.
It’s too early to tell but one only has to read between the lines, and the signs are clear that when push comes to shove, China won’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
But will it win China the war? Hardly so. Nonetheless, it could at least turn the tide of this whole entire affair in its favor.