Posted in | News | Uranium | Rare Earth Elements

Countries Scramble for Rare Earth Elements

Rare earth elements or rare earth metals are giving most nations nightmares. The alarm over China's decision to cut down on shipments of these critical metals has spread globally as countries scramble to find alternative supplies by developing new mines around the world. China dominates the production of these metals with a 97% share in the global market.

Amongst those impacted include Japanese companies who have faced major cuts in the import of rare earth elements from China since July. A bilateral spat over a ship collision in the disputed waters in the East China Sea last month has made the situation even more critical for Japan. Japan is currently the world's largest importer of these rare earth elements.

A table listing the seventeen rare earth elements, their atomic number and symbol, and their main usages is provided here.



Selected Usages



Aluminium-scandium alloy



YAG garnet, YBCO high-temperature superconductors



High refractive index glass, flint, hydrogen storage, battery-electrodes, camera lenses, fluid catalytic cracking catalyst for oil refineries



Chemical oxidizing agent, polishing powder, yellow colors in glass and ceramics, catalyst for self-cleaning ovens fluid catalytic cracking catalyst for oil refineries, etc.



Rare-earth magnets, lasers, green colors in glass and ceramics, flint



Rare-earth magnets, lasers, violet colors in glass and ceramics, ceramic capacitors



Nuclear batteries



Rare-earth magnets, lasers, neutron capture, masers



Red and blue phosphors, lasers, mercury-vapor lamps



Rare-earth magnets, high refractive index glass or garnets, lasers, x-ray tubes, computer memories, neutron capture



Green phosphors, lasers, fluorescent lamps



Rare-earth magnets, lasers






Lasers, vanadium steel



Portable X-ray machines



Infrared lasers, chemical reducing agent



Japan has received a ray of hope from Germany which has offered to help it get access to these elements. The German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle has said that he would be interested in joint efforts to explore for new resources of the minerals with Japan.

In the U.S. new legislation has been passed to support the discovery and development of new rare earth sites inside the U.S. in an effort to reduce the dependence on China for the materials. A potential rare earth mineral shortage may be devastating to several electronics related companies.

Joel Scanlon

Written by

Joel Scanlon

Joel relocated to Australia in 1995 from the United Kingdom and spent five years working in the mining industry as an exploration geotechnician. His role involved utilizing GIS mapping and CAD software. Upon transitioning to the North Coast of NSW, Australia, Joel embarked on a career as a graphic designer at a well-known consultancy firm. Subsequently, he established a successful web services business catering to companies across the eastern seaboard of Australia. It was during this time that he conceived and launched News-Medical.Net. Joel has been an integral part of AZoNetwork since its inception in 2000. Joel possesses a keen interest in exploring the boundaries of technology, comprehending its potential impact on society, and actively engaging with AI-driven solutions and advancements.


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