Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/22/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

One man's trash may be another's treasure when it comes to rare earth elements

Early miners digging for gold, silver and copper had no idea what riches would be found alongside in the piles of dirt and rocks. There's a new rush in the United States to find key components of cell phones, televisions, weapons systems, wind turbines, MRI machines and the regenerative brakes in hybrid cars and old mine tailings. These byproducts could very well contain minerals the periodic table calls rare earth elements.

Researchers discovered critical elements could be in plain sight in piles of rubble usually dismissed as worthless junk, in an example of one era's junk becoming this era's treasure.

Researchers discovered critical elements could be in plain sight in piles of rubble usually dismissed as worthless junk, in an example of one era's junk becoming this era's treasure.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/22/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: Rare earth elements, China, mning, technology needs, cell phones


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Uncle Sam could be sitting on a gold mine," Larry Meinert, director of the mineral resource program for the U.S. Geological Survey says.

Both the USGS and Department of Energy are on a nationwide scramble for deposits of the elements that make magnets lighter, bring balanced hues to fluorescent lighting and color to the touch screens of Smartphones. To do so would break the monopoly the Chinese has one these supplies.

Researchers discovered critical elements could be in plain sight in piles of rubble usually dismissed as worthless junk, in an example of one era's junk becoming this era's treasure.

"Those were almost never analyzed for anything other than what they were mining for," Meinert said. "If they turn out to be valuable that is a win-win on several fronts - getting us off our dependence on China and having a resource we didn't know about."

Fifteen rare earth elements were discovered after the gold rush died down. Demand for these elements only increased over the past 10 years as electronic devices became smaller and more sophisticated.

Beginning with number 57 Lanthanum and ending with 71 Lutetium, this group of metallic chemical elements is not that rare as they are difficult to mine. The elements are difficult to mine as they occur in tiny amounts and are often stuck to each other.

Unlike metals higher up on the table such as silver and gold, there's no good agent for dissolving these elements, making mining for them tedious and expensive.

"The reason they haven't been explored for in the U.S. was because as long as China was prepared to export enough rare earths to fill the demand, everything was fine - like with the oil cartels. When China began to use them as a political tool, people began to see the vulnerability to the U.S. economy to having one source of rare earth elements," Ian Ridley, director of the USGS Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center says.

China raised prices two years ago. Neodymium, used to make Prius electric motors stronger and lighter, went from $15 a kilogram in 2009 to $500 in 2011, while Dysprosium oxide used in lasers and halide lamps went from $114 a kilogram in 2010 to $2,830 in 2011.

That's when the U.S. government went into emergency mode and sent geologists to hunt for new domestic sources.

"What we have is a clash of supply and demand. It's a global problem. A growing middle class around the world means more and more people want things like cell phones," Alex King, director of the Critical Materials Institute of the Department of Energy's Ames Research Lab says. "Our job is to solve the problem any way we can."

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2016
Universal:
Small Farmers: That small farmers may receive a just reward for their precious labor.
Evangelization: African Christians: That Christians in Africa may give witness to love and faith in Jesus Christ amid political-religious conflicts.



Comments


More Green

'We see it:' The realities of global warming are finally accepted around the world Watch

Image of The Paris climate agreement saw Sen. Jeff Merkley state global warming is one of the greatest challenges of our generation (AFP).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

With more and more nations agreeing that climate change is not only real, but also dangerous, more world leaders are making a move to save the planet. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Senator Jeff Merkley took the Senate floor last week to say global warming is one ... continue reading


Volcanoes erupting everywhere! Is this a sign? Watch

Image of Popocatepetl erupts in Mexico. Prominent volcanoes in Russia and North Korea are also erupting.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Thirty-eight volcanoes are erupting right now. Earthquakes are making the news. Is something supernatural about to occur? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Take care that no one deceives you," Jesus admonished his disciples in the book of Matthew. The Disciples were ... continue reading


Major quakes predicted - As massive quakes strike the Ring of Fire, North America remains eerily quiet... Watch

Image of North America is overdue for a major quake, but when and where it will strike is impossible to predict.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Both a psychic and a scientist have predicted the current spate of quakes which have shook Asia, the South Pacific, and South America, and their predictions are on record. The eerie occurrence has many asking if North America is next. LOS ANGELES, CA (California ... continue reading


Scientists alarmed as massive ice sheet begins rapid melting Watch

Image of Greenland's ice sheet has begun melting early, alarming scientists.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Scientists are in shock as a massive Greenland ice sheet has started melting far sooner than expected and in great volume. The data is so surprising, the researchers initially believed it to be an error. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - On April 11, sensors that ... continue reading


Maybe this is why you're sick? Watch

Image of Global warming isn't just heating the planet, it's making people sick.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Anthropocentric global warming is going to make you sick, according to a new federal report. The 332-page report was released Monday and it predicts a host of consequences from global warming that will begin, or have already begin to affect the country. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Arctic ice continues to decline as global warming accelerates Watch

Image of Sea ice will begin melting and will reach its annual low point sometime in September. If the present is any indicator, we will see less ice in the Arctic this September than at any time in modern history.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Arctic is melting and it's happening faster than anticipated. So far, Arctic sea ice has reached its lowest level ever on modern record. It is also thinner. While the Arctic sea ice does not contribute to sea level rise, it does serve as an indicator for how our ... continue reading


You'll never believe what blessing God bestowed upon California! Watch

Image of Lake Shasta reservoir is in danger of overflowing (California Department of Water Resources).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Imagine you have a farm and the years have been kind. You look out at your bountiful harvest that God has blessed for generations and you smile with pride and joy.Then the unthinkable happens; a horrible drought hits and suddenly the future of your farm, which has ... continue reading


Four scary new things about global warming we've just learned Watch

Image of As acids and CO2 build up in the ocean, coral reefs die globally. A quarter of all sea life and over half-a million people depend on healthy coral reefs for survival.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Report after report, study after study confirms, the planet is in serious trouble. Within 50 to 150 years, and within the lifetime of children born today, the world will experience catastrophic weather changes. Carbon dioxide, and methane emissions have spiked and ... continue reading


Searing February heat shatters global record, called 'whopping' by skeptic Watch

Image of A polar bear lies dead on an Arctic beach that ought to be covered in ice. The record warm temperatures have resulted in havoc on Arctic ecosystems.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Does everybody still believe global warming is a hoax? Yet more data confirms what scientists have feared for a long time, the planet is warming, and it may have passed a tipping point. The latest data now reveals that February 2016 was the hottest February on record, ... continue reading


BIG quake prediction for California caused by... Watch

Image of A road worker examines damage done by a quake in California.

By Marshall Connolly, California Network (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A massive earthquake predicted for California in early March did not occur, although scientists now know what set off the alarm among so many scientists. The answer is, a glitch in satellite data. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - In late February, California was ... continue reading


All Green News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 16:11-15
11 Sailing from Troas we made a straight run for Samothrace; the next day ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 9
1 Alleluia! Sing a new song to Yahweh: his praise in the assembly of the ... Read More

Gospel, John 15:26--16:4
26 When the Paraclete comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 2nd, 2016 Image

St. Athanasius
May 2: St. Athanasius, the great champion of the Faith ... Read More