Australian news, and some related international items

China’s radioactive pollution from rare earths processing

China Re-Nationalizes Rare Earths – Part One, Metal Miner by STUART on SEPTEMBER 19, 2011 That China has suffered severe and widespread pollution from the mining and refining of rare earth elements (REE) is not in doubt —

The New York Times reported this week that China had largely shut down its rare earth industry for three months to address pollution problems. Officials confirm evidence visible by satellite that large tracks around both legal and illegal mine sites have become wastelands…….

Although the illicit operation was finally closed down,  pollution nightmares continue to haunt residents as toxic water from waste heaps and the makeshift mine finds its way into creeks and ultimately to the drinking water supply system. Nor is drinking water the only medium affected; REE are found in association with thorium, making waste from the refining process radioactive…..

 Apparently the government also plans to consolidate 80 percent of the production from southern China — which produces the rest of China’s rare earths — into three companies within the next year or two. All three of these companies are former ministries of the Chinese government that were spun out as corporations, and the central government still owns most of the shares. These actions will at least ensure Beijing achieves control of mining and refining; if pollution remains a problem, they only have themselves to blame.

September 20, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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