Rare Earth Elements (REE’s) are minerals used in our everyday lives. They can be found in our household appliances, phones, computers, cars, as part of wind turbines and solar panels. The US relies on imports of these rare earths from several other countries (e.g. China, Estonia, Malaysia, and Japan) as we cannot mine a majority of the minerals (e.g. cerium, lanthanum, europium, etc) domestically. Since the year 2012, the US has imported approximately 3,000 metric tons of rare earths, and in recent years, this number significantly increased. As of 2021, the US now imports approximately 43,000 metric tons of rare earths. Our need, reliance, and continued demand for these rare earths has seen a major increase in the last ten years due to several factors (e.g. technological advance and population growth). This project seeks to analyze our import reliance, and subsequent use of REE’s over the period of 2012-2021. Preserving the less abundant minerals for future uses while finding new ways to use more abundant or non-rare earths for our everyday uses of minerals to replace them will contribute to future energy security and long-term sustainability.
Smith, Ryan, "Evaluating Our Reliance on Rare Earth Minerals and Platinum Group Metals Over The Period of 2012 to 2021" (2022). Spring Showcase for Research and Creative Inquiry. 203.