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The “cultural necessity” of Rare Earths

This week, the San Francisco Chronicle zeroed in on Rare Earths. Pointing to the “cultural necessity” of REEs – columnist Brooks Mencher calls them “as critical to the Age of Technology as cement and steel were to the Age of Industry” – the article discusses the relevance of Rare Earths against the backdrop of China’s near-total supply monopoly, and attempts to give a glimpse into the future.

The conclusion? With new global exploration, new mining projects coming online, increased recycling and coordination of mine-to-magnet production, the days of China’s REE stranglehold may be numbered, but the question remains whether all of this will suffice to “guarantee the unrestricted supply of rare earths for this Age of Technology.” Says Mencher:

In the near term, China’s still holding most of the cards, and rare earths will remain in demand. In the words of Jack Lifton, “Ain’t nobody going backward.” The United States must diversify its supply lines and is doing so, but to move ahead will also require, at the very least, cooperation among nations.