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16 July 2013, The Diplomat

Mining in Space – The Next Frontier?

The Diplomat republished Chaitanya Giri's article on the mining of rare-earth elements in space. He opines that increasing demand for REE coupled with limited supply of it in Earth has intensified such extra-terrestrial explorations.

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Given the rising global demand for rare-earth elements (REE) and the necessity to synthesize exotic materials for numerous high-tech applications, extra-terrestrial mining is likely to become the next race in space.

REE are used in state-of-the-art electronics, nuclear technologies, lasers, super-magnets and green-energy technology. China, the world’s largest producer of REE, restricted its abundant supplies globally in 2009, citing the need to protect the environment. In fact, it was the mismanagement of reserves and increasing domestic high-tech production that compelled Beijing to cut REE exports from its Bayan Obo mining district.


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