Mining companies have been accused of using a dangerous substance known as “steatite” to extract valuable minerals from the earth.
The material is commonly known as lanthanum and has been linked to health problems in miners and those working on coal mines.
The company that manufactures the substance, Alpha Natural Resources Ltd., said it stopped using it after a study by scientists at Harvard University found it could cause cancer.
But mining companies are taking advantage of the legal loophole to avoid paying taxes on the toxic metal, according to the Globe and Mail.
The newspaper said the company’s chief executive officer, Jim Todashev, told employees last month they can use “steatholite” in their mine without paying taxes.
He also said he wanted them to “take advantage of this loophole” so they don’t have to pay income taxes.
In its statement, Alpha said it has been using lanthanium since the 1980s and “it is absolutely safe.”
Alpha Natural’s chief financial officer, Brian Boulton, told The Globe that lanthanonium is “100 per cent safe” and has not been detected in any of the company ‘s mines in the U.S. and Canada.
“It has never been tested in human beings,” Boultons said.
He added that the company is “committed to making our mines and our operations as safe as possible.”
The Globe and Times also interviewed Dr. David L. Smith, a mining consultant who said the use of lanthanol was common practice in the mining industry.
“There are tons of lantholite on the market,” Smith said.
“They can be found in most kinds of mines, in everything from a pipe in the floor to the bottom of the mine.
They can be used as a cleaning agent, as a filler, as an adhesive, as insulation, as reinforcement materials.”
Dr. Michael A. Stoller, an associate professor of environmental engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, said it’s “very easy to make lanthanolin” from lanthanols.
He said that lanthols “can be easily manufactured.”
He added: “It’s not really toxic at all, so it’s not like it’s toxic in the water, which is what most people are worried about.”
He said lanthanons are more effective than arsenic in repelling flies.
He pointed out that lanthalons can be mixed with other minerals, such as boron, and added that it’s possible to use them in construction.
“The problem is that it takes a long time to make them,” he said.
Stoller said lantholin could be used to protect buildings or buildings like cars from dust and heat, or for the treatment of skin problems like psoriasis.
He noted that lanthaolite can also be used for “chemical or pharmaceutical applications.”
In the U, Lanthanol, or Lanthanum in the United Kingdom, is classified as a hazardous material.
In the United States, it is a Class A hazardous material that includes asbestos, chromium, lead, zinc, silver, magnesium, copper, lead compounds and cadmium.
The Globe reports that Alpha is in the process of acquiring Alpha Natural for $2.6 billion.