Rare Earths and Us

Jonathan Lays down some Hard facts before you attend the Hijau Perhimpunan This Sunday.

Before anyone of you proceed to the Perhimpunan Hijau this coming Sunday (26.2.2012), I would like to share with you some solid, hard facts about Rare Earth metals:

1. Smartphones, like your iPhones and Androids, will not be able to vibrate without a small, powerful Rare Earth magnet made of Neodymium (Element 60).

2. The heart of a wind turbine is a permanent magnet that’s made from Neodymium (Element 60) that helps generate electricity from mechanical energy propelled by the turbines.

3. Each Toyota Prius contains 5 pounds of Lanthanum (Element 57) and 2.2 pounds of Neodynium (Element 60). Refer to the image below for more information. (Image courtesy of SAE Off-Highway Engineering Online)

Rare earth in Toyota Prius. Source from http://bit.ly/ybQUSN

Rare earths used in Toyota Prius

4. Speakers used to be made with huge iron magnets. Substitute a Neodymium (Element 60) rare earth magnet, and you get ear bud headphones and smartphone speakers.

5. Compact energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs, rely on a coating of rare earth metal Terbium (Element 65) to create a bright white glow.

6. Military relies heavily on rare earths on their equipment. A coating of Yttrium (Element 65), which can withstand huge amounts of heat, is found inside jet exhaust systems.

7. Samarium (Element 62), which is resistant to radiation that would come from a nuclear or magnetic field attacks, is key to magnets in missiles and other weapons used by military forces around the world.

8. You could watch television in color without Rare Earth elements, but it will be dull like those dim, barely colored images from the 1950’s. In the 1960’s, Europium (Element 63) was added to television screens, bringing brilliant reds. Terbium (Element 65), produced bright green hues.

9. Cerium (Element 58) is the most abundant rare earth metal. It is used in catalytic converters and other pollution control equipment. It’s also added to diesel fuel to help it burn more efficiently. Which means you will find Rare Earth metals in almost all vehicles on the road today.

10. Dysprosium (Element 66) is used in lasers, fuel injectors, compact discs, and increasingly in hybrid vehicles.

11. Europium (Element 63) is also a part of the chemical process to screen for Down’s syndrome in a patient.

12. Erbium (Element 68) is used to produce photographic filters, sunglasses, jewelry, and fiber optical amplifiers.

13. Holmium (Element 67) has the greatest magnetic strength of any element, and is used in medical/dental and nuclear control rods.

Before you reject rare earths, please understand that we are one way or another a beneficiary of these metals. Rare earth elements are neither rare, nor earth. The name dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries, when the elements were first isolated out of actually rare minerals found from the soil. Lanthanum (Element 57), first discovered in 1893, is a fine example of this. There’s more lanthanum on this planet than silver or lead and it’s the second most abundant rare earth element, but there weren’t a lot applications back then.

So totally rejecting Rare Earths (like holding a placard saying “Anti-Rare Earth”) will be completely hypocritical on oneself, unless one proclaims that he/she doesn’t benefit from any of the 13 points I’ve stated above, by which if it is the case, I humbly apologize for stereotyping.

Go to the gathering this Sunday with a clear conscience that you are promoting and demanding responsible, safe handling of radioactive wastes by Lynas, not to reject them. Because if radioactivity by rare earths is truly the main reason why one rejects this plant, I am very sorry to inform that we are, at this very present moment, already exposed to plenty of them through the devices that we use in our daily lives.

Source from http://bit.ly/zUI2jd

And I hope those who are attending will not dispose their used plastic bottles and polystyrene packaging all over the place. There’s plenty of garbage bins around the field.

Have a great green weekend.

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Son, brother, friend, traveller, amateur photographer, scuba diver, and a palm oil mill engineer who pursues moderation in everything he says and touches. Follow his blog at www.jonathanfun.com and his tweets at @jonathanfun.

Posted on 25 February 2012. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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67 Responses to Rare Earths and Us

  1. Wonder full sharing thanks for sharing with us.

  2. *


    Dato' Dr Looi Hoong Wah
    FAMM, MB.,ChB(Manchester), MRCS(England), MRCP(UK), MRCP(London)

  3. *


    Dato' Dr Looi Hoong Wah
    FAMM, MB.,ChB(Manchester), MRCS(England), MRCP(UK), MRCP(London)

  4. Hock Cheng Ng

    I love all the commenter here, with your humanity, love and wisdom to see a great disaster is coming to Malaysian people, please come to Perhimpunan Hijau 3.0 at KLCC at this 28 April.

  5. Barrack Obama Support Lynas?

    I went to the Perhimpunan Hijau last months, and I notices, almost half of people who were there, busy texting, snaping pictures and doing things with their smartphones!

    We Malaysians wanted to use the most 'advanced' technology, yet, we keep blaming on others toward the effect of the technology. If you are really not into Lynas or any rare-earth factory, then stop using those things!

    Cakap tak serupa bikin.

  6. Just who are you Jonathan Fun? Yes rare earth could be valuable materials for production, but what is these productions related to us? Did you see 10% of Toyota car is originally built in Malaysia? Was 10% of the world's Military equipments produced from Malaysia? Like every of us are benefit as Lynas do? We wont lose a thing without Lynas but WE WILL LOST HELL ALOT IF LYNAS EXIST. Your posting here, sees only "The usage of Rare Earth". What about "The Harm of Rare Earth"?

    Stop being idiots you moron..

    • Barrack Obama Support Lynas?

      Do you know that China already stop exporting their rare earth because they want to use it domestically, and at the end, they can control the world economy because they control the rare earth? 95% of it is from there!

      And now, when malaysia want to build one to compete with China, and in the hope that we can contribute to the economy of the world, nah, everyone keep saying this and that.

      if you know the harm of rare earth, then stop using all the rare-earth-based technology. you want your smartphones, but you don't want the side effect. cool. how selfish can we Malaysian be.

  7. Yus

    than u just relocating the power of disaster unlike that might not be happen AND IT WILL BE SOON…TQ LYNAS

  8. KK Tan

    By the way, Lynas does not have to pay tax so no profit for government. So why the hell allow to dump $hit at your own backyard, profit right under your nose while your people and land gets sick. There will be no more Truly Asia y'all.

    • Rahim Sulong

      Do you know that Lynas is a solid processing plant? Do you know that solid processing plant has the highest maintenance expenses compares to liquid or gas processing plant?

      Do you know that your own SHIT is highly toxic? Why do you SHIT in your own house and not your neighbour house?

      If you have your own SHIT storage, you better be careful, because your SHIT is explosive!

  9. Andrew

    rare earth is not about radioactivity, but the toxic waste. so i personally is not worried about the radioactivity, but more on the waste management. malaysians are not matured enough to handle these waste. hence you have Asian Rare Earth issues popping out.

    • Rahim Sulong

      Dear Andrew, do you mind to compare your own waste with Lynas waste to see which is more toxic?

  10. Peace

    Hi there. It's true that, radioactive materials is every where and we are being exposed to this toxic and it's unavoidable as we need to used it for our own comfort. But human who are cautious of their health will try to minimize it by using precaution measurement to protect themselves like example do not place your cell phone next to you while you are sleeping. Distance is advised to avoid the exposure of cancer risk.. You may refer this references : http://emfwise.com/precautions.php or 10 Precautions for Mobile Phones and other Electromagnetic Radiation Sourcesa> (PDF) . We cannot effort to ignore the rick of radioactive and Electromagnetic Fields towards human Health risks. Moreover Lynas is a big plant here. Its not a small equipment like cell phone which one person is using and it already cause health risk in long term.

    Lynas is a big plant and the cause to human heath is much more greater. In fact, radioactive is "A Silent Killer." This is concerning the health, life and death of human being. A home is the place where people should feel safe and secure. So we should have humanity , develop love among each other and love/caring of the mother earth too.

    Do you think the transporting of radioactive waste to other places will be a good idea and will not cause harm to others and the planet earth. Don't you think, it is waste of time, energy and money to transport waste to other country /places. Whereas our rubbish waste here is a lot here too and are facing problems too. What if , there is an accident/disaster and the radioactive wastes drops into the sea. Surely the sea will be polluted. Again Human life will also be in danger. Have we forgotten that the earth is round. Whatever happened there might also later cause here. We are all connected to each other. We have to make wise decision and be Conscience of what we are doing. Or else we will not have a peaceful conscience when we leave this planet.

    A person must be responsible of it's own action. Adopt a right, correct and positive responsible attitude will generate a good and peaceful world to live and am looking forward to it. As you know Likes attract Likes. Thus Positive action will produce Positive result. Pls, pls, pls, do consider human life and heaven will be touch of your good choice and noble action. Thank You.

    • Rahim Sulong

      Dear Peace, do you aware that every SECOND in your body there is 4000 Potassium-40 nucleus, 1 Uranium nucleus, 1 Radium nucleus, 3700 Carbon-14 nucleus, 23 Tritium nucleus that are decaying? Do you aware that every 9 to 10 SECOND there is a Thorium nucleus decaying in your body?

      Do you know that the Thorium and Uranium in the Lynas waste is exactly the same with the Thorium and Uranium that is decaying in your body? And you still alive today?

  11. DunoFixNobreaking

    On behave of green supporter; Stop polluting the few remaining beautiful & geological stable land on earth.
    As gentleman friendly advise; If you insisted to, I damn sure soon you will regret & lose everything for nothing. Not all Malaysian is c2p as you think.
    As a businessman talk; no such easy money without any payback.
    As humanity talk; there is no human being on earth can give such guarantee that your Lynas is safe. The one talking here you might say Yes to everything on any guarantee because you are paid to do so. When accident happen? the worst you can do is resign!!!
    But who on earth qualified enough to give such guarantee? Just with a single mistake, you can guarantee the dmg is reversible? No, you CANT! Whom of you can bring back the beauty and harmless habitat to living creatures.
    For such irreversible damage & pollution how dare you claimed or anyone of you capable to guarantee the safety. This is just the matter of time until the radiation level is reach to the threshold. Referring to human history shown whenever accident happen, the worst thing you can do is bankrupt so avoid to continue fully pay for the losses you made to victim & morally just announce how fucking sorry you are… so~ back off pal!
    7 hours ago · Like
    “If you don’t know how to fix it, stop breaking it,” she pleads.
    A brave child who more mature than you are~
    The girl who silenced the world for 5 minutes (in 1992) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQmz6Rbpnu0&sn

    • Rahim Sulong

      Dear DuniFixNobreaking, if what you mentioned above is what you believed, mind to ask why are you still driving? As driving risk is much much higher than Lynas? Why are you still taking flight? Assuming Lynas radiation level reach the threshold (which proves that you know so little about radiation, when your physic teacher teaches you about radiation, you are not paying attention), you still have time to run, but when a plane crash, you can fly away like a superman?

  12. nick chan abdullah

    I am all for science. And I agree with scientist that Himpunan and CAP's stupid claims are unwarranted, unscientific quackery. But one letter opened my mind, in engineering, nothing is perfect. disasters can happen. The operations can be safe, but if disaster happens, who is will be the victim?

    • Rahim Sulong

      I truly agreed with your point of view.

      However, I do have few questions, if your house collapse, who will be the victim? If your car braking system suddenly fail, who will be the victim? If your smartphone suddenly explode in your pocket, who will be the victim?

  13. cheah hooi giam

    No one refutes the uses of rare earth elements. What one objects to is the sheer audacity of a foreign company being allowed to set up a polluting plant in Malaysia where they would not do the same thing in their own country. Huge profits of $8 billion is touted but nobody seems to point out that this profit are for LYNAS shareholders. And, what will be the legacy of LYNAS to Malaysians? Radioactive by product of the plant that will stay in our environment for several thousand years! Only an oxy-moron or someone with vested interest would say it's selfish not to allow such a polluting plant in Malaysia.

    • Rahim Sulong

      Dear Cheah, the radioactive product of Lynas is the same in the soil that you stand on. Every square mile * 1 foot deep, there is average 12000kg of Thorium with the radioactivity of 52 GigaBq. It exists since the very first day the earth is formed 4.54 billion years ago, long before the very first human starts to walk on this planet.

      Dear Cheah, I really worry about your general knowledge.

  14. tom

    ur article really stupid,sorry to say

    • Rahim Sulong

      If the article is really stupid, the person who can finish it is 100x more stupid.

  15. drmcloud

    My dear loyarburok or true burok article, eventhough Lynas factory here it's doesn't make all your item more cheaper. Make prius more cheaper? Please think before make your write.

    • Rahim Sulong

      Dear drmcloud, why must you look at the $ sign? Promoting hybrid car is a very practical way to reduce the dependent on cruel oil.

      Oil platforms caused greater environment impact than Lynas. Oil spill by oil tanker kills more than Lynas. Oil refinery more toxic than Lynas. The MTBE in gasoline used by our vehicles are more dangerous than Lynas.

      Oh yeah, you better start google MTBE now, since you are so worried about Lynas.

  16. Ah Gu

    Life is short. I don't blame you Lynas.
    It's our own fault. Our government forsake us.
    Life is shorter now…Thanks to Be…end 2012

    • Rahim Sulong

      Life is shorter when you don't eat healthy.
      Life is shorter when you don't exercise often.
      Life is shorter when you don't rest enough.
      Life is shorter when you are not happy, when you are so worry, especially when you are paranoid.

      Consult any health expert, he/she will give you the same answer.

  17. Cancer Survivor

    Yes, we are being exposed to toxic, radioactive materials every day that's really unavoidable unless we live in the cave but the government who is supposed to be looking after the environment, cannot create more toxic radioactive environment for us Malaysians by approving Lynas plant here.

    • Rahim Sulong

      Dear Cancer Survivor, sorry to inform you that even you stay in a cave, you cant run away from radioactive materials, the mud, the soil all contains radioactive materials.

      Lynas is not CREATING more toxic radioactive waste. The same radioactive materials from Australia, the same radioactive materials in the waste. Nuclear fission plant is CREATING toxic radioactive waste.

  18. CK Chai

    I do agree on how the material benefits to our daily life and all the stuffs labelled energy saving but if you have found out that the process of getting these materials were so radioactive and toxic towards human being and the environment, do you still persist to go on? Why we learn history during our school days? It is simple because we do not wish repeat the history. Bear in mind that we learned our history in the expense of others people. They do, they failed, they suffered, they regretted, they live on and they died. DO WE REALLY NEED TO REPEAT THIS CYCLE?? You tell me. If you really that supportive, then be my guess, move your whole family next to Lynas site.

    • sham

      im stay at balok perdana..
      Lynas is safe dont scared the people..
      Life or death is not our job..

      • SaiFu

        i think u work @ Lynas, it benefit u.
        Life & death is not ur job, but ur health is.
        Think about ur family.

        • Rahim Sulong

          Good phrase "THINK ABOUT YOUR FAMILY".

          However, I strongly believe that a family member who willing to understand better before commenting on an issue, a family member who willing to do some own research rather than parrot what other says, a family member who can exchange different opinion using actual and proven facts, is far more important to your family instead of getting rid of a rare earth processing plant.

    • Rahim Sulong

      Poor Chai oh poor Chai, i understand your worries, i understand your concern, but still, I need to point out that you have been feeding with wrong information.

      First, "process of getting these materials were so radioactive and toxic towards human being and the environment" is very wrong. There are no process that GETTING these radioactive materials. The so-called radioactive materials exist since the earth is formed. Its totally natural. In fact, you digest/inhale the same radioactive materials everyday.

      Rare earth processing plant is a simple chemical processing plant, where chemicals (acid/solvent) are being use to extract the required rare earth element, which is not radioactive at all. The radioactive materials in the original soil does not involve in the chemical extraction process. Although, there is always concern on the acidic residue left over by the chemical extraction process. But as a responsible plant, all these acidic residue will be neutralized before releasing back to the environment. This type of chemical plants are all over Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and etc.

      In term of toxicity, those small/medium industries are actually releasing more toxic waste to our environment, because lack of strict control.

      • anonymous

        You have some point there .. Is true that the reside will be neutralized before releasing back to the environment . But for those who protest are worried that the factory might not be well manage thus causes leakage . We know that Malaysia had not been managing the country well . Therefore it causes people to doubt their management ..If only the government had been managing the country well . I believe no people would even protest because they trust the government that they will do a good job . I hope you understand what i mean .. Be it whether there is radioactive a not . Most Malaysian gain no trust from the government . What i can say if you can manage a country well how are even going to manage a factory well ..

        • Rahim Sulong

          If you have problem with the current federal government, please wait for the general election to cast your vote. Do not drag innocence party into your emotion.

          Lynas is not manage by the government. Lynas is design by US engineering firm, build by Thailand main contractor, operate and manage by Lynas itself. I can tell that you have no experience with the industries in Malaysia. The government is only imposed the rules and regulations to be follow by Lynas.

          If you really believed in what you mentioned, then the only thing you can do is migrate. The car you drive, whether is imported or local assembled, the rules and regulations are imposed by the same government. The food that you eat, whether is imported or local produced, the rules and regulations are imposed by the same government. The house that you and your family staying in, regardless of the developer, the rules and regulations are imposed by the same government. Are of these seem so dangerous to you, that will kill you anytime?

          There are many foreign investment industries in Malaysia, all the same practice. If Intel exploded and people get killed, is it fair to say it's the Penang government responsibility?

          Last year September, Empire Subang Shopping Mall exploded. Shall we blame the state government? Will that stop you from going to KLCC and Mid Valley?

          Show me some common sense of a rational person, will you?

  19. GOD

    We can do without all these so called benefits…when we are in hospital down with cancer, no? What is more important? Health and Life or Rare Earth?

    • Rahim Sulong

      Hello GOD, you seem like the highest level of anti-Lynas supporters so far.

      Cancer is really horrifying. But surprisingly, main cause of cancer is not natural occurrence radiation! Allow me to share with you about the cancer facts from Wikipedia, which a site that you can easily access to. Main cause of cancer:
      1. DIET and OBESITY 30 to 35%
      2. TOBACCO 25 to 30%
      3. INFECTIONS 15 to 20%
      4. Radiation (Both ionizing and NON-IONIZING) up to 10%
      5. Genetics 5% to 10%

      For radiation, you still need to break down into man-made radiation and natural occurrence radiation. The main source of ionizing radiation is Medical Imaging (man-made), Radon (gas-natural), and living near NUCLEAR POWER PLANT (man-made). The main source of non-ionizing radiation is ULTRAVIOLET radiation (cosmic ray-natural).

      Nothing mentioned about the natural occurrence radiation from a rare earth processing plant. Since you are GOD, so might be Wikipedia is the one who making mistake.

  20. Donny Tan

    Objectivity is irrelevant when people do not like the government. When people do not like the government, they will tend to find fault no matter how remote/ tiny/ insignificant to the observers. I don't like the government, therefore I say no to Lynas.

    • Rahim Sulong

      Dear Donny, up-to-date, you are the most honest and honorable anti-Lynas supporter I came across, I have to say, I'm really pleased to meet you. If the Lynas is approved by the government that you like, you will say YES. Good, very straight forward.

      Dear Donny, but have you consider the following scenario? You are diehard supporter of the opposite parties, there are also diehard supporter for the ruling party. Assuming the party that you support won the majority of the Parlimen seats, and starts to approve all kinds of projects to bring wealth to the country and the people. As you and I both understand, there are no ZERO-RISK plant in this world. Now the opposite party (previous ruling party) will find any faults to attack the decision made by the government, call for rally, campaign all over Malaysia and etc, they will deny every project without significant and proven facts. What do you think the future of Malaysia by then?

      Anti or Pro Lynas, both sides must be rational. The country depends on the rational people, never the fanatic people.

  21. Red MyVi

    If rare earth have so many benifits why not build it in developed countries where rare earth is much more needed? We malaysian dont need such materials for manufacturing

    • Rahim Sulong

      Can you at least finished what writer wrote before you comment?

      We Malaysian do not need rare earth elements to manufacture headphone? energy saving bulb? tv? sunglasses?

      Where are you before this? Just came out from a cave deep within Taman Negara?

  22. teen

    What are we people concern is the BI-PRODUCT. "Waste" from the rare earth material. Do you know that the bi-product for rare earth are cerium and thorium,and this thorium is as par with uranium. All those material that you mentioned in gadget these days is cerium,not thorium. Please do more research and don't just copy and paste. Thanks.

  23. ong

    so what? how about this? lynas people fear that the material use to built the plant have problem!!!!!

  24. I invite you all to visit my post on Facebook on this matter. Here’s the link :


    Thank you.

    • Michelle

      Your points make sense. You should send these to Australian government since its harmless then move the factory back to Australia and leave Malaysia alone!

  25. When will people realise that they are just being selfish if the rare earths are really dangerous>
    Relocating Lynas is just being selfish.
    Why don't we focus on solution not just protest.
    Be calm.

    • I invite you all to visit my post on Facebook and readers comments on this matter. Here's the link :

      Thank you.

    • Ambra

      Selfish? Yes we are all selfish when it comes to our health and our family, dont you? And the environment too! Why dont you relocate your selfish post to yourself? Theres no solution. Period

    • TGB

      Very true , everybody has a smart phone nowadays , even though they know it emits radiation and may be harmful to their health. To me , smoking is far worst than rare earth refining cause we can't escape it , everywhere and i mean everywhere , you can smell foul smell cigarettes smoke , all day and all year round , so close , er too close that we can smell it , and it's 2nd hand and toxic , but many are smokers nowadays , even though they know the ill effect , their number are steadily growing by the day. To me , this is a more urgent matter , but no 1 is rallying or organising a Himpunan Asap anywhere in Malaysia. Can't think of anything beneficial for smoking besides harm to themselfs and other non smoker.

    • MistyClarity

      Kelvin, the issue is not whether it should be relocated or not but whether it is wise to have the plant so close to a densely populated area.

      The rare-earth plant in australia is either far from population centers or have very stringent control mechanism such as "zero-emission" standards.

      Why should malaysians accept a much lower standard and exposed ourselves to potential harm that can remain for centuries. Under the commonwealth standards that piece of land in gebeng would be useless for centuries……malaysian government was a signatory to the code of practice on low radioactive waste.

      What do you suggest we do kelvin ? Keep in mind that the government had been complicit with large companies to deny us our rights to a safe and clean environment. It is a basic failure of governance – that's the more insidious disease.

  26. Kromoe

    Nice article, on explaining the end products of Rare Earth. But I assume it's the by-products & the waste management that these people were much worried about. Even China failed to contain it.

  27. Xonos

    True, but atleast those radiation won’t cause us harm! But those that come out from Lynas will! Because the radiation, once exposed will he high!

    It is a fact that we can’t run away from rare earth, but do consider the place to setup this facilities! As far as I know, the places is quite near to inhabitant area! And consider the fact of Malaysia Management, I can’t even sure how long then the leakage will happen like Bukit Merah!

  28. olq

    Yup, but Malaysian's esp BeN record of management towards financial, economic really disappointing!!Their website being hacked this morning and they can't even do anything bout this, dun say bout radioactive disposal!! Yup, fark off Lynas from M'sia!!!

  29. For me its Malaysian track record in management that makes me say no to this. We buy submarines that don't sink, we build stadiums that collapse, we cut into step slopes like there is no tomorrow, we blow up human beings, we left off know wildlife trafficking lords of with a discount on fines and time served in prison.

    And this is why I say NO to Lynas in Malaysia and why it should be built in Australia where they is more REAL stringent control. But I like this article, it's absolutely spot on about being hypocritical.

    • Grace Beck

      Totally agree with you Harjinder Kler.

    • I invite you all to visit my post on Facebook and readers comments on this matter. Here's the link :

      Thank you.

    • anti kaki kutuk

      Harjinder awak ni berat sebelah dan berpandangan macam pembangkang.. kapal selam kita bolih selam dan lim guan eng pun dah masuk menyelam… slope runtuh punbising kat india dengan china banguan seratus tingkat pun runtuh.. life goes on.. kita belajar dan buat yang lebih baik… kat selagor dan penang pun ada kilang rare earth .. tapi dia org tak bising sebab bolih "pow" duit.. dah lah usah terlampau jumud dan berfikiran sempit .. pentadbiran kita 100x lebih baik dari negara negara dia dunia.. termasuk india dan china.. kat america lagi teruk.. jangan terlampau suka mengutuk negara sendiri…. beri sumbangan bukan kutukan

    • dude

      But you do realise its Lynas that will be operating the plant not the Malaysian gov riiiiiiigt?