The rare earth elements are a set of 17 nearly indistinguishable lustrous silvery-white soft heavy metals. Anatomically, rare earths have very similar chemical properties; however, their electronic and magnetic properties are unique, which make them invaluable for niche applications including high tech computing, defence applications, microchips, lasers, glass, magnetic materials, and industrial processes.
China is the largest producer of rare earths with 57% of world production in 2020, followed by the USA with 15%. As rare earths are often called critical materials or strategic metals, as they are considered to have national interest.
Rare earth elements prices are hard to come by, as there is no widely used public exchange. Spot prices are listed on websites such as Kitco and Metals Prices, however they are infrequently traded and pricing should be approach with scepticism.
The list of 17 rare earth elements include lanthanum (La), cerium (Ce), praseodymium (Pr), neodymium (Nd), promethium (Pm), samarium (Sm), europium (Eu), gadolinium (Gd), terbium (Tb), dysprosium (Dy), holmium (Ho), erbium (Er), thulium (Tm), ytterbium (Yb) and lutetium (Lu) in addition to scandium (Sc) and yttrium (Y).