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AssessmentsApr 8, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
The skyline of the Inner Mongolian city of Baotou is blackened by pollution from factories processing rare earth elements, which are essential for the production of mobile phones and computers.
The Geopolitics of Rare Earth Elements
Tucked into the sixth row of the periodic table, often represented by a single square expanded like a footnote at the bottom of the table, are the 15 lanthanides. When combined with yttrium and scandium, these materials are better known as the rare earth elements. Though they are used in very small amounts, their significance to the U.S. defense sector and to emerging and potentially disruptive technologies, combined with China's control over the majority of the market, has given the rare earth elements outsized geopolitical relevance.
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