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Social and Environmental Impact of the Rare Earth Industries
Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia
Received: 18 December 2013; in revised form: 29 January 2014 / Accepted: 6 February 2014 / Published: 13 February 2014
Abstract: The use of rare earth elements in various technologies continues to grow despite some alternatives being found for particular uses. Given a history of ecological concerns about pollution from rare earth mines, particularly in China, there are growing social and environmental concerns about the growth of the mining and mineral processing in this sector. This is best exemplified by the recent social and environmental conflict surrounding the development of the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Kuantan, Malaysia which led to international activism and claims of environmental and social injustice. This paper analyses the structure of environmental and social conflicts surrounding rare earth minerals and opportunities for improving the social and environmental performance of the sector. Many of these elements are used for green technologies. Opportunities exist that offer a more circular supply chain following industrial ecological principles through which reuse and recycling of the materials can provide a means of mitigating social and environmental conflicts in this sector. In addition, public engagement processes that recognize community concerns about radiation, and transparent scientifically predicated decision-making through an appropriate governance structure within regulatory organizations are also presented.
Keywords: rare earths; recycling; nuclear; environmental conflict; Lynas; Malaysia; Kuantan; Korea; green energy; industrial ecology
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Cite This Article
MDPI and ACS Style
Ali, S.H. Social and Environmental Impact of the Rare Earth Industries. Resources 2014, 3, 123-134.
Ali SH. Social and Environmental Impact of the Rare Earth Industries. Resources. 2014; 3(1):123-134.
Ali, Saleem H. 2014. "Social and Environmental Impact of the Rare Earth Industries." Resources 3, no. 1: 123-134.