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Rare earth metals

Rare earth metals is a term used to describe 17 chemical elements in the periodic table of the elements: scandium, yttrium, and the 15 lanthanides. The so-called rare earth elements are used in many technological devices.

Expanded Definition

Here's the full list of the rare earth metals, preceded by their symbols: La lanthanum, Tb terbium, Ce cerium, Dy dysprosium, Pr praseodymium, Ho holmium, Nd neodymium, Er erbium, Pm promethium, Tm thulium, Sc scandium, Sm samarium, Yb ytterbium, Eu europium, Lu lutetium, Gd gadolinium, and Y yttrium.

Certain of the rare earths are used to manufacture high performance permanent magnets used in electric motors and generators. Hence, they are considered essential for some businesses like wind turbines used in wind energy projects.

Recent stories in the news report that China has become the low cost producer and sole source of supply making it possible to limit access or possibly form a cartel. The Defense Department has announced plans to create a strategic reserve.

Rare earth deposits are quite numerous according to recent reports, and numerous penny stocks plan to develop some of these. Molycorp has a mine in California that was shut down several years ago, and that they now plan to restart. At this writing none of these companies is profitable or producing product.

According to a March, 2011, article in the Wall Steet Journal, the rare earths mine being operated by Molycorp was previously owned by Chevron. Molycorp IPOed recently. They are producing product from the old mine but are still reporting losses. Modernization to meet permitting requirements is still two years away.

In April, 2012, Rhodia announced an agreement with Tantalus Rare Earths AG to purchase the rare earths concentrate from their Madagascar mine. [1]

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