Toyota Prius’ Dirty Little Secret: Meet Neodymium

If you have decided to purchase a Toyota Prius as an environmentally conscience move as many buyers have done you might be surprised to learn that the hybrid vehicle could be one of the more environmentally destructive choices from a manufacturing standpoint.

Environmental watchdog magazine Mother Jones reports that under the hood buyers can find neodymium, one of the “rare earth” minerals that help power all sorts of green technology along with Smartphones, LCD TV’s and other devices.

According to reports the mining process used to obtain neodymium can be extremely environmentally destructive with some areas finding radioactive waste leaks and an increased number of cancer cases.

While the major mining sites for neodymium have been primarily in China officials in the area have begun to limit mining exports which has led several company’s to call for neodymium mining in California’s Mojave Desert. Making matters worse Molycorp, a company with a history of chemical spills will be in charge of excavating more than 40,000 tons of the material each year.

When asked what needs to be done to stop mining for neodymium one mining consultant told Mother Jones:

“We need this stuff,” and “It’s just a matter of figuring out how to do it right, and unfortunately, the mining industry doesn’t have a strong history of doing this.”

It’s true that a Toyota Prius driver may consume slightly less gas per mile but at what expense to the environment and people living in that environment? Do you think buying a Prius with this knowledge still makes buyers more environmentally friendly?