China's rare earth monopoly

A close look at the importance of metals essential for many modern-day technologies.


    Rare earth metals are a collection of 17 chemical elements that are key to the production of a long list of modern-day technologies.

    Despite their name, the elements are relatively plentiful in the earth's crust. However, because of their geochemical properties, the elements are not often found in concentrated forms that are economically viable to extract. Mining them is not only complex but costly, so many countries are cautious.

    China produces more than 95 per cent of the elements for the world's technology industry. The rest is supplied by the US, Estonia, India, Malaysia and Brazil.

    That may change, however, as demand for rare-earth metals rises for use in products such as smartphones, electric and hybrid cars, common computer monitors and televisions.

    Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan, reporting from the Baotou mines in China, examines the importance of these elements.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.