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The Boston Globe

Business

Mining debris has high-tech promise

SACRAMENTO — Across the West, early miners digging for gold, silver, and copper had no idea that one day something else very valuable would be buried in the piles of dirt and rocks they tossed aside.

There’s a rush to find key components of cellphones, televisions, weapons systems, wind turbines, MRI machines, and the regenerative brakes in hybrid cars, and old mine tailings might be the answer. They may contain a group of versatile minerals classified in the periodic table as rare earth elements.

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