Rare earth metals, or, rare earth minerals, may not be exactly what their name might suggest. Seventeen elements are considered part of this group and the ‘rare’ aspect of their name refers to the fact that they uncommonly exist in pure form in the natural environment. However, in some cases the minerals may be rather common, such as Cerium, which is the 25th most abundant element on Earth. One main reason that these metals are also considered to be so rare is the high cost, both environmentally and economically, involved in extracting the materials.
As a result of these expenses, many countries neglect their own deposits despite the growing demand for such materials. The U.S., for example, purchases 92% of it’s rare earth metals from China.
This periodic table shows the “Rare Earth Elements” or metals. Not all are scarce or difficult to find in general, but in pure form they are hard to find. There are 17 elements, which include Lanthanum, Cerium, Scandium, Yttrium, Praseodymium, Neodymium, Promethium, Samarium, Europium, Gadolinium, Terbium, Dysprosium, Holmium, Erbium, Thulium, Ytterbium, and Lutetium.
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