With China now reducing mining operations of their rare earth elements by nearly 35%, the electronics industry has found it necessary to replace rare earth metals with other materials. Compared with plain old rocks you find in a quarry, they have found that rare earth metals such as Scandium and Cerium are indeed rare only because they are difficult to mine.
Until now, China has been all too happy to mine the rare earth elements for use by other countries, but now that their economy has picked up and most Chinese "have gotten a life" many laborers have decided it just isn't worth the time and trouble to make the lives of Americans easier.
This attitude has put American technological businesses in somewhat of a pickle. However, American scientists, believing that plastic is the panacea for all that is on planet Earth, are now in the process of developing several different types of plastic that can be used in place of several of the rare earth metals. Once they solve the conductivity issues they have with plastic, it is believed that the plastic counterparts will not only make a fine replacement for Earth's naturally occurring materials, but the plastic will not break down in landfills, making it easier and easier to recycle the parts for future use.
A chief metallurgist from China claims that China now has America by the balls, which, coincidentally are no longer made from brass, but will also be fashioned from plastic.