The High-stakes Race to Satisfy Our Need for the Scarcest Metals on EarthBook - 2015
"How will your life change when the supply of tantalum dries up? You may have never heard of this unusual metal, but without it smartphones would be instantly less omniscient, video game systems would falter, and laptops fail. Tantalum is not alone. Rhodium. Osmium. Niobium. Such refugees from the bottom of the periodic table are key components of many consumer products like cell phones, hybrid car batteries, and flat screen televisions, as well as sophisticated medical devices and even weapon systems. Their versatile properties have led manufacturers to seek these elements out to maximize longevity, value, and efficiency, but not without a human price. In addition to explaining the chemistry behind rare earth metals, Rare delves into the economic and geopolitical issues surrounding these conflict minerals, blending tales of financial and political struggles with glimpses into the human lives that are shattered by the race to secure them. In the past decade, the Congo has been ravaged by tribal wars fought to obtain control of tantalum, tungsten, and tin supplies in the region, with over five million people dying at the crossroads of supply and demand. A burgeoning bl
Publisher: Amherst, New York : Prometheus Books, 2015.
Characteristics: 270 p.,  p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm.