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What Are Rare Earth Elements (REEs)?

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Update time : 2018-09-14 11:17:58

Rare earth elements are a group of seventeen chemical elements that occur together in the periodic table (see image). The group consists of yttrium and the 15 lanthanide elements (lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, and lutetium). Scandium is found in most rare earth element deposits and is sometimes classified as a rare earth element. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry includes scandium in their rare earth element definition.

The rare earth elements are all metals, and the group is often referred to as the "rare earth metals." These metals have many similar properties, and that often causes them to be found together in geologic deposits. They are also referred to as "rare earth oxides" because many of them are typically sold as oxide compounds.

With rare earths, a little goes a long way.  The amount of rare earths used in high tech equipment is nominal but almost always critical to the unit’s performance.  For example, an iPhone uses eight rare earths – for everything from its colored screen, to its speakers, to the miniaturization of the phone’s circuitry.  While the amount of rare earths in each phone is very small, the quantity of phones sold each year is impressive.  According to Apple, in 2012 over 125 million iPhones were sold worldwide, up from 72 million in 2011.