China's Rare Earth Monopoly

China's Rare Earth Monopoly

Earlier this year, China announced a 72% reduction in the export quotas for rare-earth metals for the second half of 2010, sending tremors across America's industrial complex. Rare earths are a group of 17 metals vital to the production of precision-guided munitions, cruise missiles, radar and other defense systems, as well as consumer electronics and renewable-energy technologies such as wind turbines, solar panels and hybrid vehicles. Such metals are often compared to the yeast in bread—small in proportion but huge in contribution.

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