Just as the Bronze Age catapulted human civilization to new levels, critical metals are changing the way we live today. Rare earth elements, the group of resources used in the production of certain high-tech goods, from weapons to cell phones, seem to be leading the way.
Currently, more than 90% of rare earths metals are processed in China, a country that has increased export restrictions on these elements as it claims it needs to guarantee supplies for the internal market and protect the environment. The policy has generated protests from foreign manufacturers who rely on Chinese rare earths. They argue China’s restrictions aim to raise rare earth prices artificially to give its own producers higher profits.
But why are these elements so important and what exactly are they? The folks at Visual Capitalist have put together one of their famous infographics explaining just that: