Wednesday, October 6, 2010

China And Rare Earths

On Point Radio invites geologist Anthony Mariano to talk about rare earth elements, their geological distribution and applications and why China currently dominates the rare earth market.

Very briefly... China dominates because of cheap labor and a willingness until of late to tolerate environmental degradation that accompanies mining and processing of rare earth deposits... but listen to the talk for details of how this came to be.

Christine Parthemore, the other guest talks on U.S. national security and policy implications of China's rare earth market domination.

The geological context of these deposits in China varies depending on geography. The inner Mongolia deposits are within  carbonatite like bodies and veins that are intrusive and replace dolomites and shales (see here and here). In southern China the rare earths occur as ions adsorbed on clays, which are a weathered residual deposit derived from a  mostly granitic source.

Quite a good discussion.

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