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Boeing Launches Search for Crucial Rare Earth Elements

Boeing Launches Search for Crucial Rare Earth Elements

By Jeremy Hsu, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer

posted: 20 September 2010

Boeing has signed a deal to deploy remote sensing technology to map out U.S. deposits of rare earth elements.

The rare earth family of minerals is the real-life version of the precious element “unobtanium” in James Cameron’s movie “Avatar.” They are used to make everything from military hardware to humble cell phones, but could soon be in short supply as worldwide demand outstrips mining production in China.

The aerospace and defense giant announced today that it will confirm rare earth mining claims held by U.S. Rare Earths, Inc. at locations in Idaho and Montana and also aid in the search for new deposits.

This marks the latest step in a global race to hunt down rare earth deposits. China currently supplies as much as 97 percent of the world’s rare earth oxides, but has recently taken steps to cut back on exports and feed the growing demands of its own industries.”They’re very interested in finding and validating domestic reserves,” said Patrick Kennedy, public relations coordinator for U.S. Rare Earths.

New rare earth mines in the U.S., Australia, Canada and South Africa won’t start up until at least 2014, based on industry estimates. But major corporations such as General Electric and Toyota have begun quietly moving to secure their own supplies in case of a shortfall.

Staking out the deposits

Early lab analyses by………………

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