Brazilian mining giant Vale last fall discovered what it described as a rich deposit of rare minerals (also called rare earths) at its Salobo copper mine in Carajas, Brazil. Prices of certain heavy rare earth metals doubled last May after China, the world's top producer, enforced restrictions on exports of the materials, which are used in industrial applications and for advanced electronics products. Can Latin America become an important player in the rare-earths market? Where are rare-earth deposits most likely to be found in the Americas, and what will it take to most effectively exploit them? What problems—such as environmental opposition, regulatory hurdles and social protests—will most likely stand in the way?
Re-posted with permission from the publishers as a PDF document as part of an Institutional Repository collection to aggregate energy policy, regulation, dialogue and educational materials.
Inter-American Dialogue's Latin American Energy Advisor. "Can Latin America Become a Major Player in Rare Earths?." (2012). http://digitalrepository.unm.edu/la_energy_dialog/184