Rare earth metals are vital to maintaining our current economy and lifestyle. As a series of chemical elements found in the Earth’s crust, rare earth metals are an essential ingredient of many of the consumer products we use every day such as computers, smartphones, clean energy, communications, defense, health care and manufacturing.
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China currently produces 95 percent of the world’s rare earths, with Australian miner Lynas Corp and Molycorp Inc. -- which just filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy -- as the only two major producers outside of China.
The following infographic explains all the ways we use rare earth metals and why the resource is so important for a sustainable future.