Could U.S. phosphate deposits help meet growing rare earth demand?

The modern world runs on rare earth metals — they are essential ingredients in light bulbs, smartphones, wind turbines and military weapons, among other uses. Currently, China supplies more than 95 percent of the global demand for rare earth elements (REEs), giving it a virtual monopoly. But new research suggests that the United States may contain vast domestic reserves of its own that could dwarf known deposits.

 

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Julia Rosen

Rosen holds a doctorate in geology and is a freelance science writer based in Portland, Ore. She has served as both an intern and an interim staff writer for EARTH, has also written for the Los Angeles Times and AGU’s Eos, and occasionally hosts 60-Second Science podcasts for Scientific American. Find more of her work at www.julia-rosen.com.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015 - 06:00