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All Rare Earth Elements Education Resources

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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.

Environmental Justice Atlas- ‘Lynas Refinery in Kuantan, Malaysia’

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

Environmental Justice Atlas- ‘Rare Earth Mining of Chalco, Yulin, Guangxi, China’

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:

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.

Science History Institute- ‘Rare Earth Elements: The Intersection of Science and Society’

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:

Action Aid and Somo- ‘Human Rights in Wind Turbine Supply Chains’

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.

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

Green Biz- ‘Reimagining rare earth elements in a sacrifice zone-free future’

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.

China Dialogue- ‘The bottleneck of a low-carbon future’

Article highlights the supply constraints challenges associated with depleted rare earth reserves for developing the technologies needed for a low-carbon future with a focus on the context of China (looking at both domestic and global demand). Explains the background of the development of rare earth industry in China and its environmental consequences, using infographics and maps.

Carbon Brief- ‘Explainer: These six metals are key to a low-carbon future’

An explainer on the importance of critical minerals to green technological developments necessary for meeting global climate change aims and the challenges posed by potential supply shortages for decarbonisation. Uses images, graphs, videos and makes specific connections between different critical minerals and low-carbon technologies.

Seeker- ‘These Rare Elements Are Key to Renewable Energy, But What If They Run Out?’

Short explainer video on the importance of REEs for renewable energy expansion, while pointing out the environmental and health impacts of REE extraction/processing and resource supply constraints.

International Energy Agency- ‘The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions’

Detailed report from the IEA on the key role of critical minerals including REEs in shifting towards renewable energy and mitigating against climate change through the use of key statistics and useful graphs. Also highlights the challenges to energy security posed by the available and reliable supply of critical minerals.

‘Rare Earth (2021)’

A short film highlighting the environmental impacts caused by REE mining in Baotou, China:

Kleinman Center for Energy Policy- ‘Rare Earth Elements: A Resource Constraint of the Energy Transition’

An explainer on the growing for REEs as a clean energy solution- including useful graphs such as REE demand by sector- but also the environmental costs of REE mining and policy solutions.