Texas mountain to end U.S. dependence on China for strategic rare earth minerals

FPI / April 8, 2020


An unassuming mountain, which peaks at about 1,000 feet above the desert plateau 85 miles east of El Paso, Texas may be the U.S.’s answer to ending its reliance on China for rare earth minerals.

Round Top Mountain, Texas. / USA Rare Earth

Round Top Mountain offers a 130-year supply of the critical minerals, according to USA Rare Earth.

“It’s not just about supply,” said said Pini Althaus, CEO of USA Rare Earth. “We want to reinvigorate the processing industry that’s been offshored.”

Toward that end, Althaus said the company is constructing the first U.S. plant to produce high-purity rare earth oxides, first in a pilot plant opening in Denver, Colorado, scheduled to be fully-functional in May, and later in a full-scale continuous process operation on the Round Top site.

Related: Weaponizing rare-earths: China expands production as U.S. scrambles, November 19, 2019

Rare earth minerals are vital for everything from smart phones, EV batteries and medical imaging machines to advanced defense weaponry. China currently controls 90 percent of global rare earth production.

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