The first thing to know about rare earth elements is that they are not actually rare. They consist of 17 light and heavy elements that are increasingly critical to the functioning of high tech such as lasers, night-vision goggles and electric vehicles. They are not as well known as ubiquitous elements such as hydrogen or oxygen. Rare earth elements are located towards the bottom of the periodic chart and include elements such as neodymium and samarium.
However, beginning in the 1990s, America’s share of production in rare earth elements began to decline and China picked up the slack. Now, most of the world’s rare earth elements are mined and processed in China. That has people concerned.
This program will address several critical areas of rare earth elements: what they are, where they are and how they are extracted. Oftentimes when the topic of rare earth elements is raised, it is done with respect to supply chain. Thus this program will also address the supply chain challenges of rare earth elements. Lastly, a national security specialist will address the particular concerns of rare earth elements as it relates to national security.