Well, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
It turns out that some of the key ingredients in the “green” products like electric motors and efficient lights come from mines in China that destroy farmland, pollute the water supply, and are run by criminal gangs.
China also has a near-monopoly on these metals, which the world is becoming increasingly dependent on.
Keith Bradsher, NYT: There are 17 rare-earth elements — some of which, despite the name, are not particularly rare — but two heavy rare earths, dysprosium and terbium, are in especially short supply, mainly because they have emerged as the miracle ingredients of green energy products. Tiny quantities of dysprosium can make magnets in electric motors lighter by 90 per cent, while terbium can help cut the electricity usage of lights by 80 per cent. Dysprosium prices have climbed nearly sevenfold since 2003, to $53 a pound. Terbium prices quadrupled from 2003 to 2008, peaking at $407 a pound, before slumping in the global economic crisis to $205 a pound.
China mines more than 99 per cent of the world’s dysprosium and terbium.
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