Do you have a drawer — or perhaps a whole garage — piled with old or broken electronic devices left to languish after you’ve upgraded? You’re not alone. And you are sitting on a gold mine, or maybe something even more valuable.
Rare-earth elements are an essential component of smartphones, computers and tablets, as well as many industrial, defence and energy applications, especially wind turbines.
There are 15 or 17 of these elements, depending on how you count, and they’re not actually all that rare — just complicated, expensive and environmentally destructive to mine. The vast majority come from China. This has led to worries they could become a trump card, so to speak, in the ongoing U.S.-China trade war. Continue Reading →