The rare earth elements are getting a lot of geo-political attention lately with ramifications for our part of the world.
The rare earth metals are used to make magnets in fighter jets and tanks, and also play an important role electric vehicles, wind turbines and electronic gadgets.
Although these elements are referred to as rare they are not particularly rare in the earth's crust. Cesium is the 25th most abundant crustal element. However, it is not common for them to occur in concentrations sufficient to support commercial mining operations.
The problem for the western world is that China dominates the supply of these minerals, and they are becoming a weapon in the growing US-China trade war.
The growing strategic importance of rare earth elements was reflected in their inclusion in the US Government's 2018 list of 35 critical minerals.
In November Geoscience Australia and the United States Geological Survey signed an agreement to assess each country's resource potential and develop new supply.
The state government has also put $13.8m into the search with Mount Isa's John Campbell Miles drill core storage facility to play a key role.
Experts will go back through core samples, old mine shafts and tailing dams to find overlooked minerals with a range of exploration techniques, including aerial magnetic and gravity surveys to encourage companies to explore promising areas.
And in another blow to regional media diversity, Channel Seven have announced they will be axing their three Brisbane-based travel shows next year.
The shows Queensland Weekender, Creek to Coast and The Great Day Out (previous Great South East) will no longer be broadcast in 2020.
This is bad news and not just for Brisbane and the people involved.
These shows, especially Queensland Weekender, have been a showcase for Queensland Outback tourism and an extremely important avenue to share the stories of our visitor experiences and events to a large city audience.
It's a disappointing way to end what has otherwise been an unqualified success as the Year of the Outback. Derek Barry