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Rare earth coins


I have seen coins made from various rare earth metals. Are these
appreciating in value as the “rare earth scare” is now in vogue?

Perhaps if they are of such military/strategic importance our
finance minister here in Canada (Mr. Flaherty) should start issuing
Canadian coinage in RE metals from one penny to 1 dollar “lunies” and
2 dollar “tunies”. Coins are made into pendants and bracelets. If the
Canada mint drills holes in the coins that makes it easier for
jewelry purposes.

Why not even add 5 and 10 dollar RE coins and beyond to circulation?



I was offered some rare earths once, there were a couple, they came
in 100mm lead cube boxes, and only contained specs of the rare

Although interested I declined, as not only did each box weigh a
hell of a lot, the contents were radioactive.

Regards Charles A.


Most rare earth metals oxidise very rapidly and are unsuitable for
circulation coinage. If you want a guess at a metal that will make
you money then how about Iridium or Rhenium. Both are used in the
nickel superalloys in jet engine turbine blades but the platinum
mining industry is trying to find other uses, especially in the
jewellery market. See how palladium has shot up in price now it hs
another outlet other than catalytic converters on cars. Ditto
tantalum and niobium.

Nick Royall


The metals and oxides are not radioactive, they are the metals used
in powerful magnets such as samarium and neodynium and more
strangely, lighter flints. The ores of these metals are normally
monazites, which are also rich in thorium and uranium, the principal
radioactive stable metals and thus the concentrates are very
radioactive. Monazites occur in granites but are very plentiful in
monazite sands in Australia and a few other places. The REE metals
are strategic metals, similar to tungsten and titanium and whose
distribution round the world causes western governments a little

Nick Royall

Most rare earth metals oxidise very rapidly and are unsuitable for
circulation coinage 

There was recently a great piece along these lines on the “Planet
Money” segment on Morning Edition.

They make a pretty good case why the money metals we use ended up
being used.

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL


Hi Nick,

Here’s a link to radioactive rare earths… handy.

Regards Charles A.


Dear Charles,

You are right that the actinide series are radioactive, it is the
lanthanide series that are commonly called the rare earth metals,
though in the behaviour of element groupings of the periodic table
they are in the same group. I was referring to the lanthanide series
and hence referred to Th and U separately. When first discovered
they solved a chemistry mystery akin to finding the asteroid belt
between Mars and Jupiter.

Nick Royall


The REE metals are not toxic are they? They do not have the problem
of Te which makes you smell like garlic but is rarer than gold. BTW
if Te price goes to that of gold I am a rich man because I have
found a lot of it in my prospecting so I joke about my Te “find”. Who
wants a ring made of Te which makes you smell worse than Walt
Disney’s Peppy Le Pew?

Pure silver tarnishes badly. Do REE coins in alloy tarnish as well?