New submitter trevc sends this story from the BBC: Hidden in an unknown corner of Inner Mongolia is a toxic, nightmarish lake created by our thirst for smartphones, consumer gadgets and green tech. The city-sized Baogang Steel and Rare Earth complex dominates the horizon, its endless cooling towers and chimneys reaching up into grey, washed-out sky. Stretching into the distance, lies an artificial lake filled with a black, barely-liquid, toxic sludge. ... You may not have heard of Baotou, but the mines and factories here help to keep our modern lives ticking. It is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of “rare earth” minerals. These elements can be found in everything from magnets in wind turbines and electric car motors, to the electronic guts of smartphones and flatscreen TVs.