24/7 Space News
TECH SPACE
Map highlights environmental and social costs of rare earths extraction
The Rare-Earth Elements Impacts and Conflicts Map documents contentious processes taking place across REE supply chains (extraction, processing and recycling sites). It documents more than 25 cases of socio-environmental contention in China, Chile, Brazil, Finland, Greenland, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malawi, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, and Sweden, among other countries.
ADVERTISEMENT
     
Map highlights environmental and social costs of rare earths extraction
by Hugo Ritmico
Barcelona, Spain (SPX) Nov 28, 2023

A recently released map by the Debt Observatory in Globalization, in collaboration with the EJAtlas of Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB), the Institute for Policy Studies, and CRAAD-OI Madagascar, has shed light on a less-discussed aspect of the global supply chains for rare earth elements (REEs). The "Rare Earths Impacts and Conflicts Map" documents 28 social and environmental conflicts arising from the extraction, processing, and recycling of these essential minerals.

Rare earth elements, a group of 17 chemical elements, are indispensable for modern technology. Their unique magnetic, optical, and electronic properties make them critical components in a wide range of applications, from wind turbines and solar panels to electric vehicles, and from LED screens to advanced defense and aerospace systems. The importance of REEs is underscored by the European Union's Critical Raw Materials Act, which highlights their strategic significance in the green and digital transition, as well as in defense and aerospace industries.

However, the map reveals a troubling side to the extraction and use of REEs. It highlights how these processes are intertwined with significant impacts on water, soil, air quality, and human health. Issues such as lack of transparency in decision-making processes, human rights violations, criminalization, and violence against communities are prevalent in the countries identified as hotspots for REE-related conflicts. These include China, Chile, Brazil, Finland, Greenland, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malawi, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, and Sweden.

The demand for rare earth elements is projected to surge, driven by the global push for green energy and digitalization. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that meeting the Net Zero Emissions goals would require a tenfold increase in REE extraction by 2030. This increase in demand, and consequently in production, which has already seen an 85% rise between 2017 and 2020, mainly due to the need for permanent magnets in electric vehicles and wind power technology, raises serious concerns about the sustainability and fairness of the REE supply chain.

The REE Impacts and Conflicts Map points to an urgent need for addressing the increasingly unsustainable and unjust distribution of environmental, social, and health burdens across the global supply chains of REEs. The map raises several critical questions: How can the energy transition and digitalization processes be made environmentally just and sustainable without exacerbating current unsustainable practices or violating human rights? Can industrial design be rethought to prolong product lifespan, increase recycling, and decrease e-waste, waste generation, and energy use? Are there ways to develop energy transition policies that do not compromise environmental, social, or participation rights in the pursuit of climate urgency? And importantly, how can this transition account for biophysical limits?

These questions are crucial as the world grapples with the dual challenge of advancing technological progress while ensuring that this progress does not come at an unacceptable cost to the environment and communities. The map not only highlights the geographical spread of these conflicts but also serves as a call to action for policymakers, industries, and societies to rethink the current trajectory of REE extraction and usage.

Research Report:Mapping the Impacts and Conflicts of Rare-Earth Elements

Related Links
Autonomous University of Barcelona
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

RELATED CONTENT
The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
TECH SPACE
Six recycling innovations that could change fashion
Paris (AFP) Nov 28, 2023
The fashion industry's enormous waste problem is pushing governments, particularly in Europe, towards ambitious recycling targets. The problem is that recycling textiles is a highly complex task and technical solutions are still in their infancy. NGOs warn the real problem is over-production, and that tech innovations may just provide cover for brands to continue pumping out billions of new clothes. But the pressure to start recycling at massive scale is happening now. "Brands need to ... read more

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
TECH SPACE
NASA awards $2.3 million to study growing food in lunar dust

Earth bacteria could make lunar soil more habitable for plants

Big bang: Dutch firm eyes space baby

Cosmic currents: Preserving water quality for astronauts during space exploration

TECH SPACE
UK Space Agency backs Orbit Fab's innovative refueling interface, GRASP

Ariane 6 Core Stage fires up for long-duration test

Report Forecasts Significant Growth in Hypersonic Flight Market by 2030

US 'strongly condemns' N. Korean space launch

TECH SPACE
Perseverance's Parking Spot

NASA uses two worlds to test future Mars helicopter designs

California lawmakers ask NASA not to cut Mars budget

Spacecraft fall silent as Mars disappears behind the Sun

TECH SPACE
Shanghai Sets Sights on Expanding Space Industry with Ambitious 2025 Goals

China's BeiDou and Fengyun Satellites Elevate Global Weather Forecasting Capabilities

New scientific experimental samples from China's space station return to Earth

Shenzhou XVI crew return after 'very cool journey'

TECH SPACE
Embry-Riddle's Innovative Mission Control Lab prepares students for booming space sector

A major boost for space skills and research in North East England

GalaxySpace to boost mobile broadband with new-gen satellite technology

SpaceX launches more Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral

TECH SPACE
Six recycling innovations that could change fashion

Map highlights environmental and social costs of rare earths extraction

Canadian mining firm seeks to suspend 7,000 workers in Panama

Developing a superbase-comparable BaTiO3-xNy oxynitride catalyst

TECH SPACE
Minimalist or maximalist? The life of a microbe a mile underground

Deformable Mirrors in Space: Key Technology to Directly Image Earth Twins

Hubble measures the size of the nearest transiting Earth-sized planet

Webb detects water vapor, sulfur dioxide and sand clouds in the atmosphere of a nearby exoplanet

TECH SPACE
Juice burns hard towards first-ever Earth-Moon flyby

Fall into an ice giant's atmosphere

Juno finds Jupiter's winds penetrate in cylindrical layers

Salts and organics observed on Ganymede's surface by June

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters


ADVERTISEMENT



The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2023 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.