If you didn't know how dependent you were on 'rare earths' in your high-tech goods, here's a primer article from me. Here's a taster from the article just published:
If you use an iPad, smartphone, tablet, laptop, watch a flat-screen plasma TV or drive the latest hybrid, you may or may not know that you owe a vote of thanks for the product’s advanced efficiency to the use of ‘rare earths’ in its manufacture.
Being excellent conductors of heat and electricity, this little understood family of 17 mineral elements have become indispensable in component production for a string of twenty-first century high-tech goods from iPods to nuclear reactors, the gearless engines in wind turbines to military missile-guidance systems.
No surprise then that the world’s three leading manufacturers in many of the key fields, Japan, the United States (including news of a latest key find) and France, should lately unite to combat the heavy-handed manipulation of the global rare earth’s market by the world’s leading producer: China.