Rare Earth Minerals In Usa – [1/3] File image: View of the MP Materials Rare Earth mine in Mountain Pass, California, USA. correctly
Oct 19 () – The United States and its allies must mine and process more rare earths to ensure a global supply of strategic minerals for military and commercial use, US Defense Department officials said on Tuesday.
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The statement underscored the Pentagon’s growing interest in public-private mining partnerships to counter China’s position as the world’s top producer of rare earths, 17 minerals used to make special magnets for weapons and electric vehicles (EVs).
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“We know that we cannot address our shared exposure to supply chain risks without close partnerships with industry,” said Danielle Miller of the Pentagon’s Office of Industrial Policy at the Adamas Intelligence North American Critical Minerals Days conference.
“New primary production of strategic and critical minerals – in a word, mining – is a necessity to increase resilience in global supply chains.”
Miller cited recent investments in the US. Be a “patient, strategic investor” in private industry.
“Domestic production of strategic and critical materials is the ultimate hedge against the risk of deliberate non-market intervention in extensive overseas supply chains,” Miller said, referring to China’s hint that it could reduce exports of rare earths to the United States. country.
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Miller also said the Pentagon wants to help mining companies in allied countries “create a common understanding of sustainability.” Environmental standards for mining are among the strictest in the world.
“We want to work with (miners) to accelerate the transition from the lowest cost, technically acceptable supply to one that reflects our value,” Miller said.
Ernest Scheyder is an award-winning senior correspondent on the green energy transition and the accompanying fossil fuels. He is also the author of a forthcoming book on the global struggle over where, how and why minerals form. He has previously covered the US shale oil revolution, politics and the environment. Contact: +1-469-691-7667 USA. is a leader in mining and refining rare earth elements into finished products. Above, geologists show monazite, which contains rare earth minerals, in a South African mine. Rodger Bosch/AFP via Getty Images
“What about your right hand?” – asked the radiology nurse as she tapped the IV into my arm. – Yes, – I said through clenched teeth, and got up on the needle.
Rare Earth Elements
I will have an MRI of the brain as part of the study I volunteered for, but first I need to be injected with something.
“Well, we’re going to give gadolinium contrast, which makes the arteries look better on the image so we can see the smaller veins and arteries,” she said. About 30 million doses of this agent are administered annually worldwide.
Gadolinium is one of the 17 rare earth elements. They have their own section in the periodic table and have names like neodymium, praseodymium, europium, promethium.
“They are very special because they have chemical and physical properties that are very useful for various technologies,” explains Rebecca Abergel, assistant professor of nuclear engineering at the University of California, Berkeley and scientist at Lawrence Berkeley. National Laboratory.
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Some rare earths can make things that glow in the dark (strontium aluminum), some are supermagnetic (neodymium), some are radioactive (promethium). It is used in cancer treatment and in electric motors, telescopes and televisions, cell phones and fighter jets. And most of it is exported and refined almost entirely in China.
“China’s mining and processing operations now control about 80% of the world’s processed rare earth metal production,” said Eric Chewning, a partner at consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and ex-U.S
There was 100% net import dependent on rare earth elements in 2018, importing approximately 11,130 metric tons of compounds and metals valued at $160 million. Eighty percent of those imports come from China, according to the US.
Ironically, rare earths are in most cases not rare, just difficult and expensive to extract and purify.
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“We call it rare earth, but we produce a lot of it,” said Gauthier Deblonde, a scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the Department of Nuclear and Chemical Sciences. “World production is about 250,000 tons, so if you compare it to something as rare as gold, we produce about a thousand times more rare than gold every year. The name is very misleading.”
“It’s a very difficult process that involves a lot of separation steps,” Abergel explained. The final step involves using an organic compound that separates the rare earths and then attaching the element and forming a sort of cage around it to make it easier to handle. “You have to repeat this process several times to get enough separation and purity.” In equilibrium, it requires many acids, bases, and solvents.
“The key here is not the access to the concentrate on the ground, but the processing that is the bottleneck [for China] to achieve scale,” Chewning said. China has exercised its rare earth dominance in the past, he said.
It ended exports of the material to Japan in 2010 amid a diplomatic row. From 2010 to 2014, China restricted global exports, causing rare earth prices to soar until it lost a case challenging the practice at the World Trade Organization. America claimed at the time that it controlled exports to boost Chinese industry and hurt foreign competitors. And in February, the Financial Times reported that China was evaluating whether a rare earth export ban would hinder US exports. at. Fighter aircraft production.
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“And now we’re not making anything,” said Curtis Moore, pointing to the finished product. Moore is vice president of marketing and corporate development at Energy Fuels, the largest uranium producer in the United States. Many reasons have been given for the evaporation of the U.S. at. supply chain.
With looser regulations, China has paid a heavy environmental price for being at the top of the global supply chain.
“We also have a chicken and egg problem,” Moore said. US “There is a lot of demand for consumer end-use products – renewable energy, mobile phones, cars, computers – but not much demand for rare earths in the US. We have moved our production base to China.”
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The last American company to make rare earth supermagnets was Magnequench, which was controversially sold in 1995 to a consortium linked to the Chinese government. The operation moved to China and Singapore in the following decade. Molycorp, the now-defunct group that owned the Mountain Pass rare-earth mine in California, went bankrupt in 2015.
But finally, in the pyramid of reasons for the loss of the supply chain of rare earths in America, one reason is at the top. China has made the development of the supply chain for rare earths a strategic national priority. America does not. Until recently.
“President Biden and his administration recognize that rare earth minerals are vital to American industry and the American defense base,” a National Security Council spokesman said in an emailed statement this week. To address vulnerabilities in the supply chain, including rare earths. The White House says it is looking for ways to incentivize domestic manufacturing.
President Donald Trump issued Executive Order 13817 directing the administration to adopt a critical materials strategy. The Department of Defense is therefore offering tens of millions of dollars in funding to help bring processing capabilities to the US.
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Last year, Congress ordered the Department of Defense to eliminate all Chinese sources from the national defense supply chain of rare earth magnets.
The Department of Energy is funding research to make the separation of rare earths easier and more efficient and to promote recycling. The Office of Basic Energy Sciences is adding five new national laboratory projects focused on separation science for a total of $6.7 million annually. DOE invests $25 million annually in the Critical Materials Institute, focused on securing the supply chain for critical materials, with a focus on rare earths and lithium.
“The government is investing in new capabilities to try to rebuild every element of the supply chain,” said Jeff Green, president of the lobbying firm J.A. Green & Co. “The question is whether we can do it financially.”
“Our mission as a company is to restore the complete supply chain,” said Jacob Litinsky, CEO of MP Materials, the new owner of the American company.
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MP Materials restarted the mine in 2017. Previous owner Molycorp
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