In today’s episode we talk with geographer Julie Klinger, from the University of Delaware, about the geography and geopolitics surrounding the exploitation of technology-critical elements, particularly rare earth elements. The conversation is based on Julie’s book, called Rare Earth Frontiers: From Terrestrial Subsoils to Lunar Landscapes, and follows closely three cases considered in the book: 1) the former cvasi-monopoly held by the Bayan Obo mine in northern China, 2) potential exploitations in the remote Amazon in Brazil, and 3) prospective plans for mining on the surface of the Moon. Among the topics that we touch on are the ways in which discourse–more than geology–shapes the current global geography and geopolitics of rare earth mining, how the exploitations are justified through particular uses of language (hinterland, frontier, etc), and how big projects are implemented without the wants, needs and desires of local people’s being taken into consideration.
Julie Klinger, Rare Earth Frontiers: From Terrestrial Subsoils to Lunar Landscapes, Cornell University Press (2018).
Greenland’s Rare-Earth election
Sweden gives the green light for a new iron mine on Sami territory
Planned lithium (jadarite) exploitation in Serbia & subsequent protests