The primary focus of these current efforts is rare-earth metals. The rapid growth in demand for these elements, used in a wide range of electronics and other hi-tech applications, has been stymied in recent years by increasingly dire shortages. This has turned them into resources of strategic importance on the level of oil and natural gas in earlier decades. It has become particularly apparent in Asia, with nations such as India, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia ramping up efforts to free themselves from the near-monopoly that China holds.


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