Jul 29, 2012

Solve the energy AND rare earth crisis: Join the Thorium Bank | @SmartPlanet

@SmartPlanet - Put this idea into the “killing two birds with one stone” category.

The “birds” in this case are nothing less than two great economic and environmental challenges facing the West: How to establish carbon-free, sustainable energy independence, and how to cut reliance on China for the rare earth metals vital to products ranging from missiles to mobile phones.

The “stone” is literally a stone - okay, a rock - called monazite.

As I’ve noted before on SmartPlanet, monazite is a mineral rich in rare earth elements, and also in thorium, the element that could replace uranium and usher in a future of safe, efficient nuclear power that helps cut the fossil fuel cord and that greatly reduces nuclear waste hazards including weapons proliferation.

Two problems: Most countries in the West lack policy that supports thorium nuclear. Likewise, countries like the U.S. years ago took measures that handed the rare earth business to China.

Co-operative Kennedy. Jim Kennedy speaking in Chicago recently.

Another issue: Although mining monazite in say, the U.S., could help free the country from China’s rare earth shackles, the presence of thorium in the rock discourages such initiative. That’s because - with no federal thorium nuclear approval in place - mildly radioactive thorium is a costly rare earth byproduct that someone has to safely store away.

You would think it’s high time to solve this riddle.

Jim Kennedy’s Thorium Bank to the rescue!

Kennedy, one of the organizers of the recent Thorium Energy Alliance Conference in Chicago, made a compelling case at the conference for Congress to authorize - but not fund - a “cooperative” responsible for not only taking the thorium off the hands of rare earth mining companies, but also for developing thorium uses and markets, including energy.

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