Rare earth metals are key ingredients in nearly every technological device on the market today (cell phones, flat screen TVs – you name it) – and including green technologies like hybrid cars, solar cells, wind turbines etc.
Unfortunately, you will soon be hearing more notoriety tied to these minerals because they:
- are non-renewable resources
- create significant environmental impact
- require the use of toxic chemicals, acids and sulphates
- are highly monopolized in production and supply
Sounds a little bit like the oil industry?
To address the environmental impact the mining process creates, China has recently announced that they are tightening regulation of this rare earth industry. However, green technology is highly dependent on these rare earth minerals that there is speculation that green energy developments would halt if supply of these minerals decrease. Not surprisingly, it is expected that global demand for rare earth will continue to rise. And you have to wonder, how will this global demand be met? Can it be met sustainably?