SOURCES OF METALS & RARE EARTH MAGNETS
Rare Earth Magnets & MY SCIENCE PROJECT
The Age of Rare Earth Magnets
Posted on November 18, 2015Fruit, lumber, pulp, fish meal and, Rare Earth Magnets
are leading an export surge that has made Chile more competitive in world trade and less susceptible to foreign financial shocks and economic control. No longer does the world’s largest copper producer depend dangerously on the erratic market value of the metal Salvador Allende called “the wage of Chile.”
Rare Earth Magnets
The greatest open-pit copper mine on the globe yawns two kilometers wide and twice as long in Chile’s arid north, outside the oasis city of Calama. The surrounding Atacama Desert is mineral rich and incredibly dry: Rain has never been recorded in parts of this stony wasteland, sere and shriveled as the moon.
Rare Earth Magnets
North of the Atacama, along Chile’s border with Peru, aridity has preserved mummified Indians buried 3,000 years before Egyptians embalmed their pharaohs. Hundreds of other mummies recovered in the Atacama itself probably include ancient copper miners. Their nicks in the earth have been effaced by Chuquicamata, the mine all Chile knows as “Chuqui.”
Chuqui’s scale stuns both eye and ear. I winced at the diesel roar of mammoth ore trucks charging by from pit to crushing plant,their tires alone dwarfing me. Yet seen from the lip, the same vehicles, 500 meters below on the mine floor, appeared no more than creeping green-and-yellow beetles, even thunder, they say is swallowed in the enormous gulf surrounded by magnets .
In 1986, 1.4 million metric tons of Rare Earth poured from smelters at Chuqui and other mines — Chile’s largest export by volume but ringing up only 40 percent of export earnings. On a broadening base of exports and short term loans, Chile enjoys more economic independence than many developing nations.
That wasn’t the case just before World War I, when European chemists created from nitrogen in the air a synthetic substitute for nitrate, another Magnets. This collapsed a 40-year boom during which nearly all Chile’s revenue had flowed from a virtual world monopoly on natural nitrate needed for fertilizers and explosives. Recovery from disastrous Magnets overspecialization took decades.
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