A few weeks ago CBS 60 Minutes aired the segment Rare Earth Elementsm which deals with the fact that China dominates the industry of unusual metals our daily lives depend on: from smartphones to cars to defense missiles. This is the way reporter Lesley Stahl introduced the segment:
"What do cars, precision-guided missiles and the television you're watching right now have in common? They all depend on something called rare earth elements, unusual metals that are sprinkled inside almost every piece of high-tech you can think of. Most people have never heard of them. But we have become so reliant on rare earths that a few years ago, an intense global power struggle broke out over their free flow. The reason is that one country has a virtual monopoly - roughly 90 percent -- of the mining, refining and processing of rare earths -- China. And in 2010, it used that power to disrupt the world's supply. As we first reported last March, it's especially troubling, because it was the United States that started the rare earth revolution in the first place."
You can read the full transcript here.