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Steven Spence
Matt Hamilton
16 December 2014
You Can Never be too Safe
Do you ever think about the device you probably use every day? The iPhone is the device
being referenced here, used for messaging, calling, and keeping up with social media. But have
you ever thought of why that picture you took with your friend looks so good, how the colors
just pop? Rare Earth Elements (RRE) have a big role in making your device look as nice as it
does. As Molycorp's Smith says, We are indoctrinated into that iPhone, were an important and
indispensable part of that iPhone. At what cost though? The disposal of RRE mining waste
should be more environmentally friendly because it kills plants & animals, poisons water, and
can cost thousands. Now before I get into the little details, there are a few things you need to
know about RREs.

Rare Earth Elements are a group of chemical elements used in consumer electronic goods
(State of Alaska). Although RREs are useful, they are also very hazardous for the environment,
and the elements that get disposed are the main reason they are so bad to mine.

Prices are another factor in knowing why RRE mining is bad for the environment.
Excessive mining of RREs can result in landslides, clogged rivers, and environmental pollution

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As the company mines RREs from the earth, there is an abundance of radioactive waste
produced (Thompson). But China isnt the only country that has problems with their mining
effecting the environment.

In 1966, a United States mine, Mountain Pass, spilled 350,000 gallons of radioactive
waste into the nearby Ivanpah Valley, poisoning all the soil and water in that area (Thompson).
So the lack of proper waste management does not only affect the environment, but it also costs
the companies money.

Recently there was a proposal to open a RRE mine in Bokan Alaska. This problem can
easily be solved by making a safer, more economically friendly process for mining RREs.

On the other hand, some companies have tried to make the waste disposal more
environmentally friendly. The solid waste will still decompose, going into the ground and have
the same effect as liquid waste disposal.

In the end there is one obvious solution, make the RRE mining process safer for the
environment. There is solid evidence to support this argument and it will be changed in the near
future. If not, there is a future that consists of poisoned water, infertile soil, and death.

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Work Cited
Black Hills Clean Water Alliance. N.p., 30 Jan. 2014. Google. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.
Greene, Jay. Digging for rare earths: The mines where iPhones are born CNET., 26 september 2012. Web. 16 november 2014.
Hendricks, Robert. Inside a rare-earth mineral mine. Online video clip.CNET.CBS Production
CNET, 26 September 2012. Web. 16 November 2014.

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Jaeger/ Stephanie. Rare Earth Elements at Bokan Mountain: Mining a Fortune in Southeast.
Alaska Buisness Monthly February 2012: 108t.Academic OneFile.web. 30 November
2014 <>.
Mogharabi, Nahal.United States Enviornmental Protection Agency. US EPA directs Rare Earth
Mine on San Bernadino County to Correct Hazardous Waste Violations. 21 April 2014.
Web. 23 November 2014.
State of Alaska. Department of Natural Resources. Fact Sheet: Alaska Strategic Minerals/Rare
Earth Elements. Web. 2 December 2014. <
Thompson, Kaylee. There is no substitute. Popular Mechanics.1 Janurary
2013;60.elibrary.web. 16 November 2014.>.