Between activating dormant mines and recycling from discarded products, there are many sources of critical rare earth metals. Now that China is seeking to capture the revenue potential of their assets, other countries with reserves (Sweden, USA, Kyrgyzstan, Canada) will be motivated to ramp up production. It sounds like a reprise of the experience with oil and OPEC. When a dominant supplier starts demanding higher money, prices get pushed up to their true worldwide market value.
I have read EETimes for 20 years, paper (basement full of old copies, much to my wife's chagrin) and electronic, and it stuns me that nobody in any of the articles has specifically mentioned their (rare earths) absolute necessity in hard disk drives - the magnets that are used with voice coils to move the head actuators ... no access to rare earth based magnets means no hard drives ... get it ... ?
Well, with demand increasing and supplies at a fairly low level (just recently, we were talking shortages), it should be expected that the financial investment would be made in reopening existing mines and opening new ones. The question then is will the supply be enough and soon enough, or will it actually exceed demand?
Yesterday I saw a lot of stores in the mall are selling the popular toy "Bucky Ball" which is a made of 125 rare earth beads. It was a fun toy but then I thought about a this article. What a waste of this valuable resource.
Drones are, in essence, flying autonomous vehicles. Pros and cons surrounding drones today might well foreshadow the debate over the development of self-driving cars. In the context of a strongly regulated aviation industry, "self-flying" drones pose a fresh challenge. How safe is it to fly drones in different environments? Should drones be required for visual line of sight – as are piloted airplanes? Join EE Times' Junko Yoshida as she moderates a panel of drone experts.