Preliminary Study of Development of the Organization of Rare-Earth Exportation Countries (OREEC)
The largest two sectors emitting CO2 in the world are electricity generation and land-transportation. Therefore, nuclear power plays an important role in generating electricity with low CO2 emission. An important aspect needs to be considered to ensure environmental sustainability is nuclear non-proliferation and less amount of radioactive waste generated. Thus the use of “thorium” as nuclear fuel has received increasing interest because thorium produces little amount of plutonium and very little amount of long-lived minor actinide. However, thorium cannot be used immediately due to its lack of fissile isotope indispensable to start fission reaction. At the same time, electric vehicle and hybrid-vehicle become more popular as low-carbon automobiles. Rare-earth elements are indispensable for manufacturing these low-carbon automobiles. However the problem with rare-earth production is its radioactive by-product of “thorium”. Since the largest potential of consuming thorium by nuclear power still needs several decades for commercializing, there becomes a discrepancy in consumption and production of thorium causing unused stockpile of thorium. Several countries have announced to supply rare-earth but this cannot be safely and economically done unless thorium problem is solved. In this paper, an international framework called the “OREEC: Organization of Rare-Earth Exportation Countries” is proposed as a solution to this issue. The OREEC has mainly three functions: (1) ThAX, which is a financial collecting method, (2) Th FREE label, which is certification of adequate treatment of thorium and (3) The Bank, which stores separated thorium.