Archive for the ‘rare earths’ Category

Rare earths will be recycled in future technologies

July 21, 2012

“We need to recover rare elements to continue manufacturing IT products, batteries for electric cars, solar panels, flat-screen televisions and other increasingly popular products,” 

E-Waste: Annual Gold, Silver ‘Deposits’ in New High-Tech Goods Worth $21B; Less Than 15% Recovered Science Daily (July 6, 2012) — Urban mining’ deposits are 40 to 50 times richer than mined ore, experts tell 1st GeSI and StEP e-Waste Academy in Africa; New PCs, cell phones, tablets, other e-products now use 320 tons of gold, 7,500 tons of silver per year, and rising. A staggering 320 tons of gold and more than 7,500 tons of silver are now used annually to make PCs, cell phones, tablet computers and other new electronic and electrical products worldwide, adding more than $21 billion in value each year to the rich fortunes in metals eventually available through “urban mining” of e-waste, experts say. (more…)

Radioactive wastes a real problem for investors in rare earths processing

May 6, 2012

Investors need to consider the radioactive waste problems of rare earths processing

Uranium and thorium present real risk to rare earths developers – Dennis    Mineweb 2 May Interview with Carolyn Dennis of Dundee Capital Markets   “….. TCMR: Some rare earth deposits include uranium and thorium byproducts and, if a company is not recovering those, it needs to dispose of them. Is that a challenge most REE miners face?

CD: It’s a real risk across the board for rare earth companies. Each deposit, depending on the type of mineralogy, will have varying grades of uranium and thorium. The jurisdiction the deposit is in and how it approaches dealing with the uranium, thorium and radioactivity will dictate how much of an issue it is for the project. It can be a problem in processing as well. In a lot of cases, the thorium should be removed from the concentrate earlier in the process in order to improve processing downstream. Beyond that, radioactive waste material needs to be disposed of….”

The reality of radiation risk from rare earths processing wastes

April 6, 2012

Let’s de-politicise the Lynas issue — Stop Lynas Coalition, The Malaysian Insider, March 21, 2012  The majority of us anti-Lynas people feel offended by the government’s unending insistence the issue is politicised. We feel belittled by a government that does not see us rakyat as capable of thinking for ourselves, and so easily hoodwinked by the opposition.

They insist on talking facts, which came to mean solely the IAEA review report, but completely ignored all other dissenting opinions, even if these dissenting opinions are voiced by esteemed professional bodies such as the Bar Council and the Malaysian Medical Association. Perhaps, their members are somehow misled too.

These opinions are raised over time in published articles and public feedback and they have either been poorly addressed, or completely ignored. I hope to raise 3 main ones in this article and request that the government gives them befitting consideration so that we can de-politicise this Lynas issue.

a) The radiation risk is greater than what Lynas and the Malaysian government are willing to admit

The radiation safety aspect of LAMP is legitimised by the IAEA’s review. However, increasing number of scientific literature points to a strong possibility that the IAEA model may have underestimated the risk of internal emitters, which are radioactive sources that are inhaled or ingested. This hypothesis is not merely based on correlation type studies, but is backed with sound scientific reasoning.

Thorium accumulates in the body. According to the “Radiological and Chemical Fact Sheets to Support Health Risk Analyses for Contamination”, about 0.02 per cent to 0.05 per cent of ingested thorium is dissolved in the bloodstream, and subsequently deposited mainly in the bones where the radioactive source becomes embedded within the bone tissue for a few decades .  We are unsure exactly how much the body retains thorium from inhalation, but we know that “thorium is taken up in the body much more readily if inhaled rather than ingested”. True enough, the Radiological Risk Coefficient from inhalation is 450 times greater than that of ingestion [1].

Therefore if significant embedment of thorium is expected, the competing theory against IAEA’s ICRP (International Commission on Radiological Protection) model, the ECRR (European Committee on Radiation Risk) model must be considered because it takes into account the effects of thorium retention in the body. ECRR proponents reasonably believe that the ICRP formulation is wrong to dilute the radiation exposure from internal sources to the whole body, instead of confining it to the surrounding tissue only.  So, the ECRR contends that the ICRP model has underestimated the real risk of low-level radiation.

In an email exchange between Lynas’ Radiological Safety Officer Nick Tsurikov and the editor for ECRR Chris Busby, Chris Busby suggested that the risk from internal thorium exposure should be 100 times greater than what IAEA says it is [2]. The fact is, there is much uncertainty over the actual risk of low-level radiation within the scientific community.  It is foolish for the Malaysian government to ignore the possibility that the ECRR might be right…..

Determined opposition in Malaysia to Lynas rare earths processing project

March 10, 2012

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said his alliance would seek an emergency motion in Parliament to urge the government to cancel the project. He also pledged the opposition would scrap the plant if it wins national polls expected by June.

Malaysia’s last rare earth refinery by Japan’s Mitsubishi group, in northern Perak state, was closed in 1992 following protests and claims that it caused birth defects and leukemia among residents. It is one of Asia’s largest radioactive waste cleanup sites.

3,000 Malaysians rally against Australian-built rare earth plant amid radiation fears Washington Post, By Associated Press,  February 25 KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Some 3,000 Malaysians staged a protest Sunday against a rare earth refinery being built by Australian miner Lynas over fears of radioactive contamination.

It marked the largest rally against the $230 million plant in eastern Malaysia, and could pose a headache to the government ahead of national elections widely expected this year. Authorities recently granted Lynas a license to operate the first rare earths plant outside China in years. The plant in Pahang state has been the subject of heated protests over health and environmental risks posed by potential leaks of radioactive waste…..
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said his alliance would seek an emergency motion in Parliament to urge the government to cancel the project. He also pledged the opposition would scrap the plant if it wins national polls expected by June. (more…)

Toxic effects of rare earths industry in Inner Mongolia

May 8, 2011

near Baotou city in Inner Mongolia, … the world’s largest deposits of rare earths, which are vital in making many high-tech products….

Environmental groups have long criticised rare earths mining for spewing toxic chemicals and radioactive thorium and uranium into the air, water and soil, which can cause cancer and birth defects among residents and animals…..

China pays price for world’s rare earths addiction, By Allison Jackson (AFP) – Google News, 7 May 11, BAOTOU, China Peasant farmer Wang Tao used to grow corn, potatoes and wheat within a stone’s throw of a dumping ground for rare earths waste until toxic chemicals leaked into the water supply and poisoned his land. (more…)

“Rare Earths” are radioactive

April 25, 2011

why can’t the nuclear countries produce their own nuclear fuels in their own countries?  Unconfirmed reports have noted that some countries are dumping their nuclear wastes (rare earth included) in some third world countries under the guise of economic and scientific corporation!

(Malaysia) THE RARE EARTH CONTROVERSY, The Star,  by: cheaman, 25 April 11What is ‘rare earth’? They are ‘actinide’ substances. So what are ‘actinides’, pray tell? (more…)