Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thorium: Rare Earth Liability or Asset?

By Michael Montgomery

The production of rare earth oxides comes attached with a major problem: radioactive waste. The mining of the rare earths and the processing of the various elements produces large amounts of thorium as a byproduct. This material is radioactive and dangerous to human health. In China, lax environmental laws have allowed the country to build a monopoly in the market. However, now the country is looking to mitigate environmental damage from the production of rare earths, shutting down small mining operations, and raising environmental standards. This has had a dramatic effect on the price of these elements, which is why western companies are looking to produce on their deposits. One such company, Lynas Corporation (ASX:LYC) is building a processing plant in Malaysia that is coming under fire as concerns about the disposal of thorium and the effects on the local population mount. There is a possibility that this liability could become a resource of rare earth mining companies, as thorium can be used as fuel for nuclear power.
“The 800-pound gorilla in every rare-earth venture’s room, was the radioactive thorium- and/or uranium-bearing waste that will be generated by the extraction, separation, and refining operations,” stated rare earth expert, Jack Lifton. Article published here


G. Cool said...

When making conclusionary statements I believe that it is critical to cite the source...preferably some type of "reviewed" research or study.

Just because something is radioactive doesn't mean it is dangerous, in the same way that just because something is burning means it is dangerous. The fire in the fireplace across the room from me is, on the whole, a very safe and comfortable thing.

20041102.Last.Chance said...

All 4 leadership candidates in the Alberta Party were given advance notice I'd like to discuss Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTR) with them. All did some research in advance of our discussion, and 3 went on record sharing their understanding of thorium and how new technologies should shape policy.


Anyone in Alberta, either in an impacted industry, or keen on LFTR and a member of Alberta Party, please ping me.

I've been producing educational videos about LFTR, and would like to create material suitable specifically for Alberta.

Here's generic video content on LFTR...

TEDxYYC - Kirk Sorensen - Thorium

LFTR in 16 Minutes

...I can potentially create similar videos citing Alberta industries.