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Rare Earth Mining of Chalco, Yulin, Guangxi, China

Villagers protests against rare earth exploitation by Chalco Guangxi for fearing of pollution through soil and water.


Rare earths are a group of 17 chemical elements in the periodic table of the elements, i.e., Lanthanum (La), Cerium (Ce), Praseodymium (Pr), Neodymium (Nd), Promethium (Pm), Samarium (Sm), Europium (Eu), Gadolinium (Gd), Terbium (Tb), Dysprosium (Dy), Holmium (Ho), Erbium (Er), Thulium (Tm), Ytterbium (Yb) and Lutecium (Lu), and their congeners Scandium (Sc) and Yttrium (Y).  According to their atomic weights and physicochemical properties, they are divided into light, middle and heavy rare earth elements. The first five above-mentioned elements are light ones, and the rest are either middle or heavy ones. Because of their unique physicochemical properties, rare earth elements are considered indispensable in modern industry as they are extensively used in areas such as new energy, new materials, energy conservation and environmental protection, aeronautics and electronic information and communication, to name but a few. [1]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Rare Earth Mining of Chalco, Yulin, Guangxi, China
State or province:Guangxi
Location of conflict:Mapeng Village, Long'an Town, Xingye County, Yulin City
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Specific commodities:Rare metals
Project Details and Actors
Project details

92% rare earth oxide (REO) production: 700 t / year

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Project area:0.237
Level of Investment for the conflictive project3,130,277
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:43,884
Start of the conflict:23/05/2018
Company names or state enterprises:Aluminum Corporation of China Limited (Chalco) from China
Chalco Guangxi Nonferrous rare Earth Development Co., Ltd. from China
Relevant government actors:-Government of Yulin city
-Yulin Environmental Protection Bureau
-Central Environmental Protection Inspection Team
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Noise pollution, Waste overflow, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Potential: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Other Health impacts
Other Health impactspotential exposure to polluted water bodies
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Other socio-economic impacts
Other socio-economic impactswater access problems
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:By June 30, 2018, the Central Environmental Protection Inspection had received 35 complaints from the masses concerning the rare earth industry in Guangxi. The inspection team has gone to the scene to check the related reports and found that several branches of Guangxi rare Earth Company have some problems. The relevant departments have carried out investigations. There is no specific evidence that this project is under investigation, but Chalco's violations are beyond doubt.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

广西荔浦至玉林高速公路兴业段压覆稀土资源抢救性回收利用项目环境影响评价第一次信息公示 (accessed on 10-15-2018)
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2] Information Office of the State Council, the People’s Republic of China.(2012) Situation and Policies of China’s Rare Earth Industry. (accessed on 25-10-2018)
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[3] Wübbeke, J. (2015). China’s Rare Earth Industry and End-Use: Supply Security and Innovation. In The Political Economy of Rare Earth Elements (pp. 20-42). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

(accessed on 25-10-2018)
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[4] Alonso, E., Sherman, A. M., Wallington, T. J., Everson, M. P., Field, F. R., Roth, R., & Kirchain, R. E. (2012). Evaluating rare earth element availability: A case with revolutionary demand from clean technologies. Environmental science & technology, 46(6), 3406-3414. (accessed on 25-10-2018)
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[5] 广西稀土资源的分布与前景 (accessed on 10-10-2018)
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[1] Rare-earth element (accessed on 10-10-2018)
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[6] 玉林科学推进稀土抢救性回收项目 (accessed on 10-15-2018)
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[7] 忧开采稀土污染环境 广西村民抗议遭抓捕殴打(accessed on 10-15-2018)
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[8] 广西玉林村民抗议采矿遭抓捕 (accessed on 10-10-2018)
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[9] 广西兴业县马棚村之开采稀土问题 (accessed on 10-10-2018)
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[10] 广西玉林村民抗议采矿遭抓捕 (accessed on 10-10-2018)
[click to view]

[11] 水源地开采稀土,桂民抗议遭军警镇压 (accessed on 10-10-2018)
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[12] 中央环境保护督察“回头看”交办信访件办理结果公示 (accessed on 10-15-2018)
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[13] 环保督察发现中铝广西稀土多家子公司污染水源,还涉越界开采 (accessed on 10-15-2018)
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Villagers from water source mining rare earths are being beaten down by military police in protest.
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Meta information
Contributor:EnvJustice, ICTA-UAB/NWAFU 2018 Interns
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3787
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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