Rare earth metals (or minerals) are used in a variety of materials we use everyday such as cell phones and laptops, and they are also an important part of many hybrid cars. In fact, in a hybrid such as the Toyota Prius there are several pounds of rare earth minerals in parts such as the battery electrode as well as the magnets within the electric motor.
Are Rare Earth Metals Really Rare?
Interestingly enough, these "rare" earth metals are not particularly all that rare. That is, there are relatively high concentrations of them found in the earth's crust around the world, but it is not generally commercially viable to mine them. At this point, they are for the most part only mined in China which contributes about 95% of the world's supply of rare earth metals (though it only has about 37% of the world's proven resources).Read more: Rare Earth Metals, Recycling and Urban Mining