California rare-earth-miners race to refine, as China curbs REE exports

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California rare-earth-miners race to refine, as China curbs REE exports

MP Materials, owner of only US rare earth mine, the Mountain Pass rare earth mine, an open pit-mine located over the south flank of the Clark Mountain Range, headquartered in LA, Nevada, had been looking to hire more and more employees as the company appeared to be aiming at stepping up its efforts on boosting rare earth element production, as China, the world’s largest rare earth element producer had curbed REE exports to United States and raised tariffs for other countries amid an escalation of a yearlong Sino-US trade war entering into its second year.

Aside from going through a hiring spree to ramp up output, top executives of the owner of United States’ only rare earth element mine, MP Materials had been quoted saying on Friday (August 23rd) that the Los Angles, Nevada-based mining company had been aiming to be the first US refiner of rare earth elements (REE) since 2015, when the former owner of CA’s Mountain Pass mine, Molycorp Inc.

went bankrupt due to a higher operating expenses stemming from a higher labor cost in the United States. In point of fact, on last June, China had doubled tariffs on imports of rare earth elements to more than 25 per cent, while on last Friday (August 23rd), China added another 10 percent levy on unrefined rare earth elements.

Meanwhile, followed by China’s retaliatory tariff of as much as 35 per cent on unrefined REE, last week US President Donald Trump and his administration had ordered Pentagon to support domestic production of rare earth elements and to develop refineries for rare earth elements, a set of seventeen minerals used to manufacture high-tech weapons, guided missiles, consumer electronics alongside a swath of electronic goods ranging from child’s playthings to supercomputer chips. So far, there had been no known refiners of rare earth elements but China.