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

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    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.

    Will you push the boundaries or play it safe?

    Will you push the boundaries or play it safe?

    Curate an art exhibition and survive Thailand's censorship crackdown in this interactive game.