THE AUSTRALIAN: We dig it: time now to make a stand on rare earths

There is a magic to rare earths, the set of 17 elements that appears halfway down the periodic table. Discovered at the birth of the industrial age in the late 1700s, rare earths were first used to make flints for lighting fires and mantles for gas lanterns.

During the past few decades their uses have multiplied. Phone touchscreens and camera lenses, wind turbines, LED lights, electric cars, jet turbine blades and magnetic imaging all depend on rare earth elements.

The air force’s F35 fighter aircraft each contain about 400kg of rare earth products, which helps explain why US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is in Australia this week...