- = Enviormental Deffects and Downs to Rare Earth Mining = -

By Payton Howard

Pro's VS Con's of Rare Earth Mining


Much of technology relies on this material
Waste has to be put somewhere.
Villagers in towns affected by the Rare Earth waste can sell sludge to earn money
Health problems effect all of those who are near by one of these plants.
GPS's, Phones, Computers, Laptops, Cars,
Locations of mines are classified as, "inappropriate."

Many wars are fought over this material.

Fought over so much China has limited exportations.

Toxic waste from this does not evaporate.

Classified as enviormentally unstable.

Introduction -

iPhone.pngTake a look at the electronics that you use daily; your laptops, your iPhones, your tablets, etc. All of these things that you use daily to complete the days schedule run off of one source, known as Rare Earth. While you may think that it’s great that you can have all you need at the touch of a screen, it all comes with a cost. Technology advancements did not outweigh the environmental, health, and economic problems that tie in with Rare Earth Mining.

Now, you may have always wondered, where does all the garbage you throw away go after the dump truck has picked it up? Well, what do you think happens to all of the Rare Earth Extract that is not needed? Before you even say it, no, it cannot be recycled. As you may be aware, Rare Earth processing plants are home to some of the most radioactive materials and waste – an example of this could be Thorium. Radioactive materials like this are a large hazard to humans, alongside with their health. While this element not only is a severe hazard to human health, it is a hazard to environmental health as well. In china, in a local village, a farmer by the name of Ju has stated the following, “Once this field was full of crops. Corn, Barley, Rice, etc. Now everything we grow either ends up smelling funny, or doesn’t even blossom at all. These plants just cause an overall dump. Still don’t believe me? Well, then you’d be astounded to hear that once the world’s leading provider in Rare Earth material, which could be making millions, known as Molycorp, shut down due to all the waste that it was creating and the cost to clean it all up? You have to then recall that this company knew that they could have gone much farther in their business then the current standing point they were at before they shut down, but they decided that the determining factor of their shutdown was the unsanitary environment that this was creating. Much of the sludge that was coming out was getting into well needed parts of the surrounding area, the rivers, into the ground, and many other places too.
yoloswag.pngRare Earth Waste.jpg

Rare Earth Waste being cleaned
With the topic of spillages in mind, that carries me to my next topic, Rare Earth extract leakages. You may think that most of the leakages happen by accident, correct? Just as someone might have dropped a cup of coffee outside by accident. But, unlike where if you dropped something outside, the normal person would go over to it and pick it back up, sad to say, you can’t pick up Rare Earth waste, especially since it’s radioactive and very harmful to humans. Rare earth leakages actually most of the time happen on purpose, into a local river or some of the sort, due to the fact that the waste apparently has no job sitting in the factories, other than to take up space. For instance, a town in China suffers from these leakages and they’re all done on purpose, but there is nothing that this town can do about it, because the factories there own the land. This town, known as Baotou, inside the city of Mongolia, was facing more hard ships by the day. Once the plant that was on the land intoxicated the water supply, the town had to find a new supply for all the needed uses for this liquid. Li, a citizen of the town of Baotou, exclaims, “Plants grew badly. There were flowers alright, but most of the time there was no fruit or the plants were small and smelled horridly.” The necessary crops just wouldn’t grow the same any longer. Towards the end of this town’s demise, all that was growable was Wheat.

Last but not least, you may not know, that the actual process of mining for Rare Earths is direly expensive. First off, like stated many times above, it’s an expensive and dangerous process which can lead to many health and environmental issues, as stated above. Secondly, the operations/facilities for REE have been estimated to cost a large amount of money for just finding a proper location and just getting started. This is a large waste of thousands of dollars that could go toward funds that need it much more than us needing yet another Rare Earth facility. For instance, finding a location suitable for the job can take weeks, even months to find, because it has to have the right amount of minerals in the ground, which is some-what hard to do without mining into the ground a small amount to see if it possess any of these traits. Last, but certainly not least, in which I have brought up in other points, the waste that comes along with it. If you ought to start a REE mining facility, you better be prepared to pay a large, hefty bill that first one you get, because you’re going to have to pay for cleanup. So far, not any REE facilities have made a successful attempt in order to do this, and honestly, I don’t think you’ll be the first.

change.jpgI think that actions need to be taken in order to have a healthier environment for our earth. I personally feel that a new, safe, and more environmentally friendly way for mining for Rare Earths should be created. I feel this way because of the fact that this whole process of mining for Rare Earths is general is a very messy and dirty process all together. It’s known to be a very dirty process globally, and I feel, as well as hope, that something is done about this in the future. I think that the actions needed to be taken could be crucial and that we defiantly need to find a better way to complete the process of Rare Earth Mining.

Well, you can probably see how the process of mining for Rare Earths is such a hazard to not only us as humans, but the environment as well. Now you really know that Technology advancements do not outweigh the environmental, health, and economic problems that tie in with Rare Earth Mining. Rare earth mining is a wreck for the environment, risks of leakages, and the cost is just too great for something that we could be figuring out a more efficient way to solve for.
Rare Earth Waste.jpg

Works Cited
Payton Howard

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