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China and the Geopolitics of Rare Earths$
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Sophia Kalantzakos

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190670931

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190670931.001.0001

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What Are Rare Earths?

What Are Rare Earths?

(p.48) 2 What Are Rare Earths?
China and the Geopolitics of Rare Earths

Sophia Kalantzakos

Oxford University Press

Rare earths are seventeen elements essential for hundreds of applications in renewables, high-tech, and defense. They include the family of lanthanide elements, as well as yttrium and scandium, and are divided into two main categories: light and heavy. They are called “rare” because of the low concentrations in which they are found and because it is difficult to mine and process them. This chapter catalogues a range of their most important uses for different industries and provides an overview of processing techniques and the serious environmental risks that accompany them. Finally, it examines the possibilities and limitations of recycling and substitution.

Keywords:   lanthanides, rare earths, substitution, recycling, renewables, yttrium, scandium

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