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PBS NewsHour: Rare Earth Minerals' Scarcity Worrisome for Growing Tech Sector

Author: The Bureau for International Reporting
June 14, 2010


Correspondent Kira Kay reports on a Canadian hunt for "rare earth" minerals, elements mined almost exclusively in China, that are key to emerging green technologies, cell phones, engines and other high-tech devices despite their short supply.


RAY SUAREZ: Among the deposits in Afghanistan are some called rare earths. There's now a global race to mine those rare earth elements.

Special correspondent Kira Kay reports on what that means for the U.S. and others.

KIRA KAY: From the air, the frozen landscape of Canada's Northwest Territories looks as remote as any place on Earth. But, in this vast uninhabited zone, there's a kind of 21st century gold rush under way.

After landing on the icy surface of Thor Lake...

Very nice to meet you.

CHRIS PEDERSEN, senior geologist, Avalon Rare Metals, Inc.: Indeed. Likewise.

KIRA KAY: ...I am met Chris Pedersen, a geologist with Avalon Rare Metals company. He's out here looking for some very valuable minerals he believes are under this lake.

CHRIS PEDERSEN: And those gray specks are rare earth minerals. I mean, they're very nondescript. They're not sparkling and shiny like gold or diamonds or anything. But they're -- they're just as important.

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