A vast expanse of toxic waste fills the tailings dam on April 21, 2011, frequently whipped up by strong winds dumping mllions of tonnes of radioactive materials toward surounding villages where farmers blame the state-owned giant Baogang Group, China's largest producer of rare earths and a major iron ore miner and steel producer, for poisoning their fields and ruining their livelihoods near Baotou city in Inner Mongolia, northwest China. Farmers living near the tailings dam, a 10-square-kilometre expanse of toxic waste, say they have lost teeth and their hair has turned white while tests show the soil and water contain high levels of cancer-causing radioactive materials. China produces more than 95 percent of the world's rare earths - 17 elements used to make things like iPods, flat-screen televisions and electric cars, two-thirds of which are processed in mineral-rich Baotou on the edge of the Gobi desert. Environmental groups have long criticised rare earths mining for spewing toxic chemicals and radioactive thorium and uranium into the air, water and soil, which can cause cancer and birth defects among residents and animals.  AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)