Klinger in Mongabay on Madagascar Rare Earth Project

Julie Michelle Klinger, PhD, Assistant Professor of International Relations, Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University. Photograph by Jonathan Kannair for Boston University.

Julie Klinger, Assistant Professor of International Relations at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, was recently interviewed on the controversial project by Singaporean company ISR Capital to develop a rare earth mine on Madagascar’s Ampasindava peninsula.

Klinger was quoted in an August 8, 2017 article in Mongabay entitled “Troubled Firm Aims to Mine Madagascar Forest for Rare Earth Elements.

From the text of the article:

But the pits are minor inconveniences compared to what may come. The negative environmental and health impacts of rare earth mining can be serious. “There is little understanding internationally of the true human costs of rare earth mining,” wrote Julie Klinger, an international relations professor at Boston University and author of a forthcoming book on rare earths, in a 2013 essay.

The lack of clarity with regard to TREM’s plans makes it hard to predict the project’s environmental impact. “Without disclosing what sort of chemicals they will use to separate the rare earth elements, and in what manner they will be used, the company cannot credibly state that they will extract these elements in an environmentally friendly manner,” Klinger wrote in an email to Mongabay after reading an ISR Capital filing that asserts that the Ampasindava deposit could be mined in a relatively easy, environmentally friendly way.

China has provided 85 percent or more of the world’s rare earths for the last few decades, but authorities there have been reluctant to disclose the environmental impacts, according to Klinger, who speaks Mandarin Chinese and did research in Bayan Obo, the self-proclaimed Hometown of Rare Earths. “Some true locals are tragically recognizable by their blistered skin and discolored teeth, indicating severe chronic exposure to arsenic leaching out of the mine,” Klinger wrote in her 2013 essay.

Julie Klinger specializes in development, environment, and security politics in Latin America and China in comparative and global perspective. She is currently completing a book project on the global geography of rare earth prospecting and mining, with a special emphasis on the development and geopolitics of resource frontiers in Brazil, China, and Outer Space.