So I am glad to post about this 3rd major discovery/increase in production of the past 12 months (see previous posts). Via PCWorld (yes!)
The U.S. mine, owned by Molycorp, has reopened after closing in 2002 following radioactive wastewater spills and price competition. The largest spills, from a pipeline to Nevada, occurred in the late 1990s, in protected lands in the Mojave Desert. The company has since changed its ownership structure.
Molycorp's facility, in Mountain Pass, California, will expand production dramatically. It's being rebuilt to produce up to 40,000 metric tons of rare-earth elements by 2013, which would be a 700 percent increase from its production target for the end of this year.
The carbonatite deposit, which contains a variety of ore types, was discovered by prospectors in 1949, according to a U.S. geologist. About 8 percent of the deposit contains rare-earth minerals, a good ratio in rare-earth mining.
Seventeen elements on the periodic table of elements are considered rare earth, including neodymium and terbium. Molycorp mines 10 of the rare-earth elements by hauling ore-laden rocks from the ground, crushing them, and then chemically extracting the elements.
Also see this video report, available on YouTube: