Tim Maughan, writer for BBC: You may not have heard of Baotou, but the mines and factories here help to keep our modern lives ticking. It is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of “rare earth” minerals. These elements can be found in everything from magnets in wind turbines and electric car motors, to the electronic guts of smartphones and flatscreen TVs. In 2009 China produced 95% of the world's supply of these elements, and it's estimated that the Bayan Obo mines just north of Baotou contain 70% of the world's reserves. Mining produces a lot of hazardous waste. The United States has chosen to shut down many of its mines and let the rest of the world do the dirty work so we can have all our modern technology including wind turbines and solar panels.
Clinton Crackel, a professional in nuclear energy and fossil fuels: Coal is a valuable national resource, capable of providing much more than simply fuel for coal-fired power plants. It is also a source for rare earths, synthetic liquid fuel, synthetic gas, metallurgical coke, and contains numerous metals including uranium and thorium.
Clinton Crackel, a professional in nuclear energy and fossil fuels: Rare earth elements are utilized in both civilian and military technologies. China became the world's principal producer or rare earths in the 1990s. By selling at very low prices, it became the source for over 95% of world rare earth production by 2000, even though the pollution to the environment around the production facilities is horrendous. By encouraging production of rare earth elements in the United States, we can eliminate dependence on foreign sources for very important national security materials and do a better job for the environment. It doesn't have to be, it shouldn't be always and only about the bottom line of price, ignoring horrific labor conditions and environmental destruction in far off lands.
James Kennedy, Political Economics and Public Policy, President at ThREE Consulting & ThREEM3: How Wall Street Darling Molycorp Undermined the U.S. Economy, Degraded our National Security and Distorted the Global Economic Balance and How These Falsehoods Continue to be Promoted Even Today.