The Mountain Pass mine in California was once the world’s largest producer of rare earths, and plans are afoot to re-start operations there (it was essentially put out of business by the low-cost supplies from China in the early 1990s). It will likely be costly, of course. More information about some other US rare-earth possibilities in the link (disclaimer, the link is my own blog). There is news about rare-earth developments almost daily.
So – yes, we could find alternative sources. “Easily” is not necessarily applicable however.
Thanks for the info and the interesting blog post. Interesting that even if the US were to re-open some of the mines that we’d still need to ship the product to China for the final processing!
Since the blog post I’ve read that they are also considering a new (or rejuvenated) separation plant, but that is apparently a really major undertaking, comparable to starting an oil refinery or nuclear power plant – billions of dollars up front. We’ll see.
rigibson, I saw an article on NYTimes today about the Mountain Pass rare earths mine that I thought you’d be interested in:
Thanks, yes, the issue has reached the mainstream press – which to me means it’s a real (and serious) issue – one that’s well advanced if the mainstream covers it.
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