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This article is taken from PN Review 243, Volume 45 Number 1, September - October 2018.

from Third Nature Drew Milne
Rare Earths.

The irony of the plural rings bells, but rare earths are dug and then made. The ancient metres have spade, will mine, there be industry, and there be the brews, the pollution, sad waste and fake news for miners and smelters, not to mention sickness scars in the vicinity, and everything going all the way down to bacterial clouds and cancer clusters around the gene pool. The stumbling blocks are rich in hue and terror, but so fall the arms of sundry workers. Some of the industry will go on self soiling and some will go into administration, even if digital canaries get around to lighting up the screens of the trading floor. It’s a shut case for birds of darkness, lungs of coal, and all about the margins, not the horizon or earth singular. Making losses is just this world’s way of telling you to stop doing what you are doing. There are other relays, but losses are the undertakers. Sovereign among the bits of kit taken as read are guided missiles, laptops and smart phones, all firing away on scarce metals. Production dominance passed to China some years ago. Politicians sense opportunities amid human fodder digging for peanuts. Rare earths become geopolitical chips. There are bitter candles stored in the fridge under the nuclear bunker. The game of chicken is about supply chains and defence investment, but low prices take the laurels. Rare earths are not even rare, just diffuse. The back garden has its fair share, ...

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