June 15, 2021

The U.S. Senate passed a law aimed at boosting American production and processing of rare earths. In 2019, the U.S. imported 80% of its rare earth minerals from China, the U.S. Geological Survey says.


  • These are a set of 17 chemical elements in the periodic table, specifically the 15 lanthanides plus scandium (Atomic Number 21) and Yttrium (Atomic Number 39).

  • Lanthanide series comprises the 15 metallic chemical elements with atomic numbers 57 through 71, from lanthanum through lutetium.

  • Scandium and yttrium are considered rare-earth elements because they tend to occur in the same ore deposits as the lanthanides and exhibit similar chemical properties, but have different electronic and magnetic properties.

  • Cerium (AN 58) is the most abundant rare earth metal.

  • Why these elements called as RARE? There is no shortage of rare earths. But their extraction is difficult (Requires high skill, Capital intensive, Environmental issues).

  • 2 main ore of extractions are Monazite and Bastansite.

  • Properties: Their colour ranges from Shiny Silver to Iron Gray. They are soft, malleable, ductile and usually reactive, especially at elevated temperatures or when finely divided.

  • Its application ranges from Civilian (smartphones, laptops, petroleum refining catalysts) to military including nuclear applications. Rare minerals that are essential to electric vehicles, wind turbines and drones.

  • China has the largest reserve (37 percent), followed by Brazil and Vietnam (18 percent each), Russia (15 percent), and the remaining countries (12 percent). Deng Xiaoping said once, The Middle East has oil and China has rare earth.

Source : The Hindu