How do We Deal With The Pollution Associated With Chinese Rare Earth Production?

Sat, Dec 5, 2009

Supply Chain

I’ve just finished writing up a new article over at Rare MetalBlog titled “Chinese Rare Earth Production: A Darker Shade of Green?“.  The article discusses a new Sunday Times report on the extensive pollution caused by the mining and production of rare earths in China, and the effects that they’re having on the local people.

It also asks some questions on the lack of an accelerated pace for funding North American rare earth initiatives, and includes one hypothetical situation which, if realized, has the potential to severely disrupt the present rare earth supply chain, long before we can handle such a disruption.

Check the article out, and feel free to leave comments either here or over there, on what you read.

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3 Responses to “How do We Deal With The Pollution Associated With Chinese Rare Earth Production?”

  1. Stan Trout Says:

    There is a similar article in the NY Times today

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/26/business/global/26rare.html?hp=&pagewanted=all

    It is a sad lack of stewardship on a grand scale and it was completely unnecessary. The Chinese could have easily gained a dominant share of the rare earth market without taking environmental shortcuts.

  2. Lex Says:

    There’s only one way I can think of to deal with it – open Mountain Pass in CA / develop other REE sources in the USA and return to self sufficiency. Not easy, maybe impossible given the ecological factors.

    China doesn’t usually take kindly to being told what to do, and they want their slice of the industrial big time. I don’t see how the rest of the world can regulate their activities. Good to see growing internal pressure for environmental concern, but I’m cynical over whether protest will impede motion.

    It definitely seems as though the USA has been caught with its pants down in this scenario, doesn’t it? I’m reading elsewhere that the USGS has been underfunded in recent times but even so, it seems surprising that the USA would allow control of strategic resources to slip away… here’s a USGS article from 2002 I just discovered – they were quite aware of what was going on even back then – http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2002/fs087-02/

  3. Trev Says:

    cienceDaily (Dec. 19, 2009) — Fierce competition over raw materials for new green technologies could become a thing of the past, thanks to a discovery by scientists from the University of Leeds.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091215101708.htm