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America


Minerals Shortage Poses Threat to Every American


T


Despite abundant supplies at home, the U.S. imports crucial metals from foreign suppliers who could hold us hostage. BY MATTHEW LYSIAK


he united states is dan- gerously dependent on rare- earth minerals — substances vital to smartphones, fi ghter


jets, laptops, and rocket engines — and it may be setting itself up for another bout of painful extortion similar to the OPEC oil embargo in the ’70s. This year, global consumption of rare-earth materials is expected to be about 155,000 tons. That’s more than triple what it was just 25 years ago. Don Lay, the president and CEO


of Medallion Resources, recently told InvestingNews.com that the growing rare-earth demand “has little chance of being met by new projects.” There are 17 rare-earth minerals.


Most of them go by names you’ve never heard of before, but due to their unusual properties, they have been called the oil of the 21st century. Some of them sell for about $300 per pound. Yttrium and praseodymium, for


example, are two elements essential to smartphones. Other rare earths are used in the batteries that power elec- tric cars. A shortage of these rare min- erals would cripple the United States. The U.S. supply is mostly imported — and global demand continues to grow. Superstrong magnets, lasers, medi-


MINERAL RUSH Rare minerals are essential to high-tech sectors. From top: Bidders examine rare earth minerals for sale. Rare earth powders, including cerium, neodymium, and gadolinium. Soil containing rare earth minerals is loaded at a port in China.


24 NEWSMAX | MAY 2018


cal imaging devices, fl at screen TVs, camera lenses — these are just a few of the high-tech applications that require rare-earth materials. Rare earths play a critical role in national defense and


CLOSE-UP/JOKER/ALEXANDER STEIN/ULLSTEIN BILD VIA GETTY IMAGES POWDER/ALEXANDRUSIMON/DREAMSTIME / SOIL/STR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES


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