The radioactivity issue: This was raised in Hong Kong by REE expert Dudley Kingsnorth in a presentation to a metals conference. It’s another headache for the rare earths industry. His case is that, in light of the Fukushima disaster and the campaign in Malaysia against Lynas, the whole radioactivity issue will need to be addressed more comprehensively by the industry.
Transportation of radioactive materials will remain of concern to local communities – as will the disposal and storage of radioactive residues. Kingsnorth argues that those projects which minimise the transport of radioactive materials and “return” the residues to the mine site are more likely to receive environmental approvals in a timely manner.
In fact, as he commented to ProEdgeWire, it’s going to be increasingly difficult for companies who plan projects that involve transporting and disposal outside their own jurisdictions.
And here’s a Kingsnorth prediction sure to ruffle a few feathers in the industry. By 2016, he sees a maximum of only seven non-China sources of rare earths. There’s Mountain Pass and Mt Weld, along with Indian Rare Earths (involving Toyota Tsusho) and Kazakhstan (involving Sumitomo). The other important source of REE: recycling. Then he adds the probable other two, Great Western’s Steenkampskraal and Alkane’s Dubbo project.