Quartz Obsession
Quartz Obsession
Nov 23, 2021
Rare earths: Scarcity at your fingertips
Play • 22 min

A group of 17 elements make up a little-known group called rare earth metals. They are notoriously tricky to extract, which is unfortunate since they’re key components in smartphones, batteries, motors, and wind turbines, and essential to a clean-energy future. China has a near monopoly on the mining and processing of rare earth metals, but as demand for them rises, other countries are looking to get into the game.

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Photograph by Eric Helgas, styling by Alex Citrin-Safadi

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