Learn Where The Rare Earth Minerals In Your iPhone Come From

NASA/Public Domain

Scientific American has an excellent piece on the minerals mined to make our iPhones. Including photos and a great infographic, the piece delves into the rare earth minerals we use for electronic devices and where they come from -- and at what cost.

It also looks at the Molycorp mine here in the US and the ways the company is trying to extract minerals in a less environmentally destructive way -- though how far the mining industry can really go to green its business is debatable.

What's unique about Molycorp is that it's trying to harvest rare-earth minerals in an environmentally friendly way, or at least as environmentally friendly a way as a mine can manage. The company has come up with a proprietary method that it believes is the answer to the toxic mess that's defined much of the world's rare-earth mining. And if Molycorp executives are correct, they may be modernizing rare-earth mining in a way that could force Chinese competitors to improve the way they operate.
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There's little doubt the environmental cost of creating an iPhone, as well as those wind turbines, hybrid engines, and the bevy of other technical wonders that use rare-earth minerals, has been immense.

But regulatory pressure, coupled perhaps with the market forces of the new Molycorp mine, could be the start of a cleaner rare-earth mining industry.

The SA piece is very informative and sure to spark more questions, and it is well worth heading over to read in its entirety.

Tags: Ecological Economics | Environmental Footprint | Mining

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