Film industry reliant on rare earth minerals

Posted on July 18, 2012 by Minerals Make Life

The far-reaching effects of the unstable minerals supply chain have hit Hollywood. Last week, entertainment weekly magazine Variety featured an article discussing the use of rare earth elements in filmmaking equipment and consumer electronics.

“Magnets are a very important part of many energy technologies and also a key part of hard disc drives used in recording and transmitting film and television footage,” said the U.S. Department of Energy’s David Sandalow. Those magnets often rely on rare earth elements including neodymium and dysprosium.

Other essential technologies to entertainment production—including camera lenses and speakers—are also dependent on rare earth elements like neodymium and lanthanum.

With the United States 79 percent import-dependent on China for these valuable minerals, China’s recent export restrictions on the minerals are impacting the bottom line for American manufacturers.

Andrew Jones, director of speaker engineering for Pioneer, noted “When you’re designing something like speakers for a computer where the profit margin is 10¢ or 20¢, the fluctuation in price of the rare earth neodymium that we use can just wipe that out.”

With minerals a critical component of countless products manufactured and used by Americans every day, it’s essential that smart policies are in place to support domestic minerals production.

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