Skip to comments.Earth-Friendly Elements, Mined Destructively
Posted on 12/25/2009 7:14:31 PM PST by reaganaut1
GUYUN VILLAGE, China Some of the greenest technologies of the age, from electric cars to efficient light bulbs to very large wind turbines, are made possible by an unusual group of elements called rare earths. The worlds dependence on these substances is rising fast.
Just one problem: These elements come almost entirely from China, from some of the most environmentally damaging mines in the country, in an industry dominated by criminal gangs.
Western capitals have suddenly grown worried over Chinas near monopoly, which gives it a potential stranglehold on technologies of the future.
In Washington, Congress is fretting about the United States militarys dependence on Chinese rare earths, and has just ordered a study of potential alternatives.
There are 17 rare-earth elements some of which, despite the name, are not particularly rare but two heavy rare earths, dysprosium and terbium, are in especially short supply, mainly because they have emerged as the miracle ingredients of green energy products. Tiny quantities of dysprosium can make magnets in electric motors lighter by 90 percent, while terbium can help cut the electricity usage of lights by 80 percent. Dysprosium prices have climbed nearly sevenfold since 2003, to $53 a pound. Terbium prices quadrupled from 2003 to 2008, peaking at $407 a pound, before slumping in the global economic crisis to $205 a pound.
China mines more than 99 percent of the worlds dysprosium and terbium. Most of Chinas production comes from about 200 mines here in northern Guangdong and in neighboring Jiangxi Province.
China is also the worlds dominant producer of lighter rare earth elements, valuable to a wide range of industries. But these are in less short supply, and the mining is more regulated.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Instead, let's not cripple our domestic oil, natural gas, and nuclear industries.
By definition, shouldn't "renewable energy" not rely on mining rare-earth metals?
global warming ping
Where’s your sense of innovation? We’ll have windmill-powered element transmuters and linear accelerators in no time if 0bamas’ pals get the no-bid no performance guarantee contract they’re seeking. Funding is working its way through Congress as we speak.
Ah, the devil is in the details.
On a tangent, I read somewhere that the bass player from Rare Earth actually was a rocket scientist. It is suspected that he was kidnapped and taken to China. Tin foil hat time, Freegards.
We’re going to be so screwed....
this story is garbage
consider, motors for electric cars.
rare earths are nice to have,
but not vital.
I don’t know what the competing materials are (Wikipedia is of no help here). It is true that rare earths make greatly improved magnets and are a part of the phosphors in high color fidelity fluorescent lamps.
>competing materials< , is not how I would put it.
some electric motors,
do not need magnets
“Some of the greenest technologies of the age, from electric cars to efficient light bulbs to very large wind turbines”
What’s green about cars that gobble up electricity that’s already on the verge of system collapse? The idiots won’t let us build power plants, yet they want cars that go 40 miles, or 100 miles or 200 miles, and then have to sit there and charge.
rare earths are nice to have, but not vital.
You don't understand the "carrot and stick" mentality of earth worshipers.....
.....If you can make a "zero emission" car with regular magnets
.....Then you can make a "less than zero emission" car with rare earth element magnets!
Perpetual motion times two!
Technology for the sake of technology, even if not necessary.
I have to wonder if these "safe" rare earth elements are just the next lead or mercury poisoning scandal.
Shouldn't we be doing some real research on toxicity and land filling of these elements before we make them as common as paper trash?
Oh, I forgot, the libs are always creating the next crisis to conquer.