The use of magnets made from rare earth mineral is widespread and used in computer hard drives, some earphones and Mr Dyson's new hoover. This is in a vey real sense, a separate issue and revolves around whether we can be happy with technological progress at the expense of other people's lives and environments.The use of rare earth magnets in turbines relates to their lower weight.
China and the rare earth minerals required to build turbines Who is paying 'The Real Price' for this so called 'green power' ? Every one of these turbines has a magnet as part of its structure. In the larger turbines that magnet weights 2.5 tonnes. Part of the content of that comes from rare earth minerals, with China having a global monopoly on the mining of the same (A country with a government not well known for either its environmental record,its' human rights or its' regard for its people).The mineral in question here is "neodymium", mined exclusively in China.The mining process is dirty and dangerous involving repeated boiling in acid of the ore in order to extract "neodymium". Among the waste products which are left to leech into the waterways and land in China is radioactive thorium.
You might like to visit this.It's PBS, the Amercian Public Broadcast Television Service and a documentary made about this issue. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/asia/july-dec09/china_12-14.html Local farmers speak as follows. WANG CUN GUANG, farmer: The Baotou Environmental Protection Bureau tested our water, and they concluded that it wasn't fit for people or animals to drink or for irrigation. JIA BAO CHENG, farmer: Rare earth is the country's resource, but small people like us need to eat, too. We live on farming, but the crops no longer grow, and we will go hungry.
"A worker in an adjoining factory warehouse insisted he would never work on the factory floor, however much he was offered. 'It's suicide,' he said. 'If you work in there long enough, you will die of cancer.'Ironically, as the environment surrounding the mines in Inner Mongolia becomes more poisoned, demand for green technology in the West is driving up demand for rare-earth metals. Worldwide consumption is expected to hit 200,000 tons a year." Among the side effects for those working in this dirty industry are a variety of conditions including cancers such as pancreatic cancer.
Call on these organisations who support windfarm development to state their position on this appalling situation in China where rare earth minerals required for turbine magnets are mined