RARE EARTH ELEMENTS (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Economy)

News-CRUX-10     23rd December 2023        
output themes

Context: China, the world’s top processor of rare earths, on Thursday banned the export of technology to extract and separate the strategic metals, as it overhauled a list of technologies deemed key to  national security.

Rare Earth Minerals

  • About: Rare earth elements or metals comprise a group of 17 chemical elements in the periodic table used to make magnets for use in EVs and other electronics.

oThese elements include the 15 lanthanides, along with scandium and yttrium, which are often found in the same ore deposits as the lanthanides and share similar chemical properties.

  • Reserves and Production: China is the leading contributor to rare earth production, followed by Brazil and Vietnam (18% each) and Russia (15%).
  • India’s Scenario: India has 6% of the world’s rare earth reserves. It only produces 1% of global output
  • Classification of REEs: Light RE elements (LREE) and heavy RE elements (HREE).
  • Significance of Rare Earth Minerals

oEssential minerals such as Cobalt, Nickel, and Lithium are necessary for the production of batteries used in electric vehicles.

oIndia, with its ambitious plan to transition a significant portion of its transportation to electric, will have an increased demand for these minerals.

oCerium, utilized for glass polishing, and lanthanum, employed in car catalysts or optical lenses, represent traditional applications of these minerals.