In the News: Companies Increasing the “Green” in Rare Earth Mining

When you think of mining and, particularly when you think about rare earths and metals, “green” might not be what comes to mind. This is because traditional mining has a history of being a scurge on the environment. Over the last few years, though, mining operations, especially those dealing in rare earths, have started to “greenify” their acts.

GTSO (Green Technology Solutions Inc) has recently declared victory in its attempts to expand urban mining. They accomplished this by acquiring an e-waste recycling company (a start up) called Global Cell Buyers. Urban mining is the name given to the process used to reclaim materials that have been used in other technologies. For example, when you “recycle” your cell phone or tablet, an “urban mining” company goes through it and looks for salvageable components, like rare earth metals, etc.

Molycorp is one of the industry’s leaders when it comes to green technology and rare earth mining. They recently overhauled their practices to reduce the amount of strain they were putting on the earth. Leading experts in this arena say that their practices are what could force the world’s leading miners (China) to change their methods as well, lest they fall behind and lose business. This is a big deal because until recently, China has been the sole producer of these materials and is working really hard to keep a solid hold on that monopoly.

UCore is another rare earth mining outfit that has been making the news recently. This company is focused on the development phase of mining rare earth metals. They’ve caught eyes thanks to the US Department of Defense contracting it to do a metallurgical and mineralogical study on Bokan Mountain. Bokan Mountain is in Southeast Asia and is where the company has been doing the bulk of its mining. The company is likely to be further contracted to be the primary resource for a “secure domestic supply line” for materials.

No article on green technology and rare earth mining would be complete without a mention of Lynas. Lynas has been in the news quite a bit over the last few months due to litigation from environmental groups in Malaysia. The groups have succeeded in, at least temporarily, getting Lynas’ licensing pulled from the mining they want to do there. So are you wondering why Lynas chose Malaysia?

Well, Malaysia has a much better tax structure. More importantly, the water resources are far more abundant there than they are in Lynas’s home country of Australia.