Skip to comments.Caught between Trump and its biggest market, America’s sole rare earths mine is an unusual victim
Posted on 05/27/2019 4:47:29 PM PDT by Zhang Fei
MP Materials, which runs the sole operating rare earths mine in the United States, is an unusual victim in the year-long tit-for-tat trade war between the two largest economies on the planet, as the conflict looks set to open up a new battlefront over technology.
The operator of the Mountain Pass mine in California said it will kick-start its own processing operation by the end of 2020, after China last week more than doubled an import duty on concentrates to 25 per cent effective June 1. MP exports pellets ground-up ores that contain oxides of rare earth elements to China for processing into neodymium, cerium and other elements used in magnets, electric vehicles, smartphones and a myriad of industrial applications and electronic products.
A 25 per cent tariff is likely to make domestic sources of rare earth ores in China more competitive, although importing ore still circumvents the mining quota and associated environmental legislation, said David Merriman, a London-based analyst at Roskill Information Services.
MPs strategy underscores the lopsidedness in one aspect of the complicated US-China commercial relationship, where America had run a trade deficit with China since at least 1985 when US census data began. Mountain Pass lost its two-decade dominance of the worlds rare earths supply in the mid-1980s when China began to exploit, extract and process the nations vast reserves, ending up with a stranglehold of about 90 per cent of global supply today.
US President Donald Trump, who ordered his administration to more than double US duties on US$200 billion worth of Chinese products to 25 per cent, had wanted to slap a 10 per cent tariff on Chinese rare earths in July, but dropped it from a long list last September.
(Excerpt) Read more at scmp.com ...
Good news for the other REE mine in the US that isn’t in CA:
This mine previously operated as Molycorp, went bankrupt in 2015. Lots of enviro-reg and market problems. A lot of circumstances are going to have to change before it becomes viable again.
I thought the US was importing a lot of rare earth materials from China.
We have production here, so we don’t need to import them. This is supposed to be good.
“The problem is that processing the ores into the minerals used in industry creates significant pollution, such that the ores from this US mine are sent to China to process. “
Why not send them to another country or another state in the US to process?
Where do we get lead from since Obama closed the lead smelters?
“MP Materials, which runs the sole operating rare earths mine in the United States,..”
You mean Obama/Hillary didn’t sell it to Russia or China for campaign contributions?
I’m kind of mixed on this...since most of these rare earths go into electric cars, something that I can live without.
I say we plan a military campaign on California. Besiege and take Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and begin mining operations those locations.
Lock up the legislature and governor, arrest the democratic Congressional Representatives and Senators, put Hollywood and tv types in concentration camps, and get on with the mining!
[Why not send them to another country or another state in the US to process?]
The best thing the USA could do for the earth’s environment would be to relax some of the EPA rules to make mining, drilling, production, etc. more widespread in the US.
No idea on the actual levels, but lets say the US only allows 2 part/million of nasty, and China probably has no limits - so maybe 500 ppm of nasty into the air. So we send our stuff to China.
Make our limit something that isn’t too costly to do, but still way better than China (say 20 ppm?) and we can keep those industries and jobs here. AND keep from polluting our environment so much.
I don’t recall the particulars - but the coal-fired electrical plants were outfitted with filters back in the 70’s or 80’s to reduce pollution. And a necessary step IMHO. But then they (obama?) come along and requires this huge other system of treatment, and that make coal plants unfeasible. (Which was the plan).
Most USA waste-water treatment plants release cleaner water than what is already in the river!
If we were to relax some EPA restrictions in the name of National Security AND
Free up a lot of Federal Lands for prospecting AND
Encourage N Sask, Man & Alb Canada to to the same....
We would likely be awash in rare-earth minerals
The Anwar oil fields that DJT just opened up in Alaska are loaded with rare earth minerals! Coincidence? Don’t think so!
Damn, you’re sounding like I feel.
The US does mine some of the “light” REs but as for the important “Heavy” REs that is a bit of a challenge.
Enviro rules in the 70’s and 80’s killed the RE mining industry. Many companies don’t want to deal with the regulatory hassle.
If you simply rectified the “Thorium” issue, the US can jump start it’s RE industry. Heck, the tillings lakes have a lot of REs which can be gathered rather easily (more or less). Enough to satisfy our needs for many, many years.
Background Video from someone in the trenches:
TEAC reps have been working to insert “thorium reforms” into the Congressional docket but have been rebuffed by Military pencil pushers and enviro nuts.
Thing weren’t moving until Trump stepped in...might get some movement on this matter.
WOW ! Mountain Pass in the news ! I lived there as a child in the ‘60s and attended the 2 room school house. And met Elvis Presley at our little post office/grocery store. He was riding a motorcycle with another rider on their way to Las Vegas. He stopped at the little store for soda and snack. My Mom talked with him while I just gwacked. He was very nice. The most favorite place I ever lived.
Or other states might seize the opportunity. Perhaps we can even find a way to process it and reduce the pollution effect in the process. If anybody can we can.
So the issue is not environmental but economic.
Hmmm...Why pussy-foot around... Skip the camps and just send them all to Somalia, Yemen, and South Africa... Alternatively, turn them over to the Philippines and let Duterte take care of them with his helicopter...
Put all the bums “homeless” to work in or on the mines. Win win problem solved.
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