Rare Earth Mineral. Photo: Wikipedia
As defined by IUPAC, rare earth elements ("REEs") or rare earth metals are a set of seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table, specifically the fifteen lanthanides plus scandium and yttrium. Scandium and yttrium are considered rare earth elements since they tend to occur in the same ore deposits as the lanthanides and exhibit similar chemical properties.
Despite their name, rare earth elements (with the exception of the radioactive promethium) are relatively plentiful in the Earth's crust, with cerium being the 25th most abundant element at 68 parts per million (similar to copper). However, because of their geochemical properties, rare earth elements are typically dispersed and not often found concentrated as rare earth minerals in economically exploitable ore deposits. It was the very scarcity of these minerals (previously called "earths") that led to the term "rare earth". The first such mineral discovered was gadolinite, a compound of cerium, yttrium, iron, silicon and other elements.
Rare earth minerals are used for the production of high powered war weapons, Wind Mill, Smart phones, High power magnets and lots of uses for producing a modern gadgets. As reported in the Business Mirror, "MGB eyes search for rare earth mineral sites in Q1" the Philippines is likely to engage in Rare Earth Element production in Palawan and Northern part of Luzon.
The government aims to identify by the first quarter potential mining tenements for the Philippines's venture into rare earth elements (REE) production, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said on Wednesday (January 2, 2013).
"In fact, we have already found potential areas to explore and these areas are also close to copper-gold mines. Notably, Palawan and Nueva Vizcaya are the best places to start," said MGB Director Leo Jasareno.
REE are the raw materials for producing electronics and other modern-day gadgets.
The MGB earlier said P20 million has been set aside for the REE venture.
The Philippines's bid to develop REE production comes after China capped exports of the commodity more than a year ago.
Manila sought help from state-run China Geological Survey for the exploration program, but no such assistance was forthcoming after tensions between the two countries heightened because of competing claims over portions of the West Philippine Sea, believed a treasure trove of oil and gas reserves.
"So far, we have received no word from them," Jasareno said.
China, which controls about 97 percent of the world's rare elements, has reduced its export quota to gain control over global prices of the commodity.
Prices of the metals however have gone down over the past several months, with China's biggest producers cutting production to halt the slide.
Also called the "metals of the future," REE are used in the production of weapons guidance systems and other space age technologies.