Vail Symposium gets down to the nitty gritty on rare-earth elements | VailDaily.com
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Vail Symposium gets down to the nitty gritty on rare-earth elements

Thursday Zoom discussion looks at how modern technology is dependent on these rare elements

Rare-earth elements consist of 17 light and heavy elements that are increasingly critical to the functioning of high tech such as lasers, night-vision goggles and electric vehicles.
Special to the Daily

Students are taught about the periodic table of elements with clever tricks to remember them (AU, bring back my gold!). But have you heard about rare-earth elements? On Thursday, June 3, from 6-7 p.m. on Zoom, Vail Symposium presents a discussion about these rare-earth elements — what they are and why we should care.

“You cannot make an advanced fighter jet or an electric vehicle without rare-earth elements,” said director of programming Claire Noble. “These elements are not as well-known as platinum or gold, but modern technology depends on them, which is why they are crucial for our economy and our national security.”

The first thing to know about rare-earth elements is that they are not actually rare. They consist of 17 light and heavy elements that are increasingly critical to the functioning of high tech such as lasers, night-vision goggles and electric vehicles. They are not as well-known as ubiquitous elements such as hydrogen or oxygen — they’re located toward the bottom of the periodic chart and include elements such as neodymium and samarium.



However, beginning in the 1990s, America’s share of production in rare-earth elements began to decline, and China picked up the slack. Now, most of the world’s rare-earth elements are mined and processed in China. That has people concerned.

This program will address several critical areas of rare-earth elements: what they are, where they are and how they are extracted. Oftentimes when the topic of rare-earth elements is raised, it is done with respect to supply chain. Thus, this program will also address the supply chain challenges of rare-earth elements. Lastly, a national security specialist will address the particular concerns of rare-earth elements as it relates to national security.



About the speakers

Roderick G. Eggert is the Viola Vestal Coulter Foundation chair in mineral economics at Colorado School of Mines where he has taught since 1986. He also is deputy director of the Critical Materials Institute, an energy innovation hub (research consortium, led by the Ames Laboratory) established by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2013, to accelerate innovation in energy materials. His research and teaching focus on mineral economics and public policy.

Ariel Cohen, L.L.B., Ph.D., serves as senior fellow at the Eurasian Studies Center at the Atlantic Council. He is also the director of energy, growth and security at the International Tax and Investment Center. Dr. Cohen is the founding principal of International Market Analysis Ltd., a Washington, D.C.-based advisory specializing in strategic communications, political risk and public affairs serving domestic and international clients. For 22 years, Cohen served as senior research fellow in Russian and Eurasian studies and international energy policy at the Heritage Foundation. Cohen conducts White House briefings and regularly lectures at the U.S. Department of State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Training and Doctrine and Special Forces Commands of the U.S. Armed Forces, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Willy Shih is the Robert and Jane Cizik professor of management practice in business administration at the Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts. He is part of the Technology and Operations Management Unit, and he teaches in the MBA and Executive Education Programs. He has brought several MBA classes to China, including a class focused on China’s Belt and Road Initiative that took students to Shenzhen and Hong Kong in China, Myanmar and Sri Lanka in January 2020. Shih’s expertise is in manufacturing, supply chains and product development. He has written or co-authored numerous cases and teaching materials in a wide range of industries.

IF YOU GO…

What: The Nitty Gritty: What You Need to Know About Rare Earth Elements

When: Thursday, June 3, 2021. Program from 6-7 p.m.

Where: Zoom webinar

More information: This program is free. Please register at VailSymposium.org for more information.


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