Contemporary Global Rare Earth Politics: Persistent Myths, Policy Challenges, and Possible Pathways Forward
An interesting lecture by Dr. Julie Klinger
A video discusses the geopolitics of rare earth production
Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)- ‘The geopolitics of Chinaʹs rare earths: a glimpse of things to come in a resource-scarce world?’
A summary paper of the global political dimensions of rare earth production, focusing on China’s dominance of the REE market and its rare earth-related policies. Puts these into a broader context of growing global REE demand and the key role of rare earths in developing green technologies.
A podcast telling rich stories of domestic politics and local communities affected by REE mining in China, covering governance and environmental issues. They touch on protests against REE production from villagers in Guangxi province
Short case summary of an international environmental campaign against a long-established rare earth refinery in Malaysia based on concerns around ecological and health impacts, particularly related to the company’s dumping of radioactive waste
Short case summary of protests which took place in a village in Guanxi, China due to concerns around pollution from a new REE mining project, particularly related to potential impacts on drinking water. Summarises the broader context of REE extraction and environmental impacts in China
Huber and Steininger (2022)- ‘Critical sustainability issues in the production of wind and solar electricity generation as well as storage facilities and possible solutions’
Recent article summarising the supply chain risks associated with critical mineral production, including rare earths, across human rights violations, poor governance and corruption in the mining sector and toxicity, as well as possible regulatory solutions to these problems. Includes a useful table in the introduction highlighting the sustainability/supply chain issues for each of the relevant critical minerals including REEs:
Summary of the social, environmental and governance impacts of rare earth mining, as well as the geopolitical aspects of REE production:
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)- ‘Green Conflict Minerals: The fuels of conflict in the transition to a low-carbon economy’
Detailed report on the social conflicts and local grievances which may be exacerbated by green mineral extraction. Looks at country cases where governance of the mining sector is ‘weak’, meaning a higher risk of human rights abuses, labour exploitation, social conflicts and environmental damage. Uses the example of REE mining in Baotao, China. Alongside facts and figures, includes an interactive map to highlight country-level measures of fragility and corruption across critical mineral deposits.
Article summarising the labour exploitation, dangerous working conditions and lack of health & safety protections associated with REE mining (as well as with e-waste disposal):
Video showcasing talks and discussions on the intersection of science and society around REE developments, including as they relation to production and recycling and low-carbon futures:
NGO report on the social + environmental risks and human rights implications of the extraction of critical minerals (including REEs) for the manufacturing of wind turbines, incorporating livelihoods impacts, health and safety issues for workers and local communities and violent conflict. Uses images, infographics and concrete examples.
A podcast with Professor Julie Klinger on the geopolitics of rare earths and the supply issues surrounding REEs
A short podcast on the supply chain dimensions of rare earths and on the US seeking to becoming self-sufficient in REE production, focusing on the Mountain Pass mine in California, the only REE mine in the country (at the time):
University of Birmingham- ‘How can we secure a responsible supply of critical materials for the 21st century economy?’
Research being carried out on finding technological solutions to supply chain and sustainability challenges with REE production, notably through the development of technologies to recycle and reuse lithium-ion batteries or alternative kinds of batteries
The Guardian- ‘The race for rare earth minerals: can Australia fuel the electric vehicle revolution?’
Recent article on the geography of REE production, China’s dominance of the REE supply chain and how Australia is planning to develop its own REE extraction and production sites to meet growing demand
On the uneven toxic geographies of REE extraction and processing through the showcasing of a collaborative photography/documentary project (called ‘Rare Earthenware’) to make these issues visible. Uses photos and a short film to show the toxic journey from source to product, including the extraction site, factory and shipping container.
Short article on the environmental degradation caused by rare earth mining in Baotao, China using the concept of ‘sacrifice zones’. It also highlights alternative visions for more sustainable and more just production of REEs, for instance through green chemistry or product re-design.