A NASA Terra satellite image taken in 2006 showing the expanding Bayan Obo mine in China.
What if there were rare minerals so valuable to many of the United States' most advanced weapons systems that their disappearance from the marketplace could threaten America's national security interests? And, what if those rare minerals were, in fact, almost solely in the hands of the country's fiercest global economic competitor — who held a monopoly over them?
Well, guess no more — it's true. Despite years of concern in the United States and around the world, China still holds a monopoly on rare earth elements (REEs) that are critical to a number of advanced weapons systems, mobile devices and emerging green technologies. And the situation isn't likely to change any time soon.
For the rest of the story: http://www.livescience.com/29287-is-china-mining-a-rare-earth-monopoly-op-ed.html