Rare Earths To Affect Engineers

Lynas is a company used to dealing in gold, but years ago switched direction and decided to direct its energy toward rare earth minerals. Currently, China enjoys a monopoly on rare earth refining. If this mine and refinery are allowed to be built, it could open up engineering opportunities for other companies and engineers all over the world.

Lynas has been mining rare earth minerals in Malaysia and now it is time to start smelting (or refining) the materials that they have been pulling out of the earth. Unfortunately residents and environmentalists are highly opposed to having this done locally because, they say, it could allow or even cause highly radioactive materials to seep into the ground water and cause all sorts of health problems for the people who live nearby.

According to an article by the BBC, the International Atomic Energy Agency has done a thorough inspection and review of what the company wants to do and has pronounced the facility safe and said that the plans are “very well engineered.” Even so, the company cannot get back to work until the high court settles the lawsuits and injunctions that have been filed, calling for the work to potentially stop altogether.

This hasn’t been good for the company as a whole. Stock prices have dropped more than sixteen percent since the work has stopped. As the opposition grows more vocal, it gets more attention—not just from local media but from the global media as well. It also puts them at odds with the Australian government, who will not allow the mined materials to be shipped back to Australia for refining.

What does that mean for engineers?

Specifically, if Lynas is allowed to actually take the measures it wants, it will create 450 new jobs. This is a boon to local engineers as well as the local economy.

Globally, this helps strengthen the effort to break China’s monopoly on rare earth minerals and open the mining of them up to other places. The number of jobs that could be created worldwide isn’t something that can be known specifically right now, but it’s safe to bet that the number won’t be small.

If you’re curious and want to know more about the company, you can learn about Lynas Malaysia on Facebook.com. Their Facebook page is a great source for up to the minute news about the situation.

Fjordan Allego
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