• 3 minutes e-car sales collapse
  • 6 minutes America Is Exceptional in Its Political Divide
  • 11 minutes Perovskites, a ‘dirt cheap’ alternative to silicon, just got a lot more efficient
  • 2 hours GREEN NEW DEAL = BLIZZARD OF LIES
  • 2 days Does Toyota Know Something That We Don’t?
  • 5 days OPINION: Putin’s Genocidal Myth A scholarly treatise on the thousands of years of Ukrainian history. RCW
  • 2 days World could get rid of Putin and Russia but nobody is bold enough
  • 1 day America should go after China but it should be done in a wise way.
  • 5 days CHINA Economy IMPLODING - Fastest Price Fall in 14 Years & Stock Market Crashes to 5 Year Low
  • 4 days China is using Chinese Names of Cities on their Border with Russia.
  • 5 days Russian Officials Voice Concerns About Chinese-Funded Rail Line
  • 4 days CHINA Economy Disaster - Employee Shortages, Retirement Age, Birth Rate & Ageing Population
  • 10 days huge-deposit-of-natural-hydrogen-gas-detected-deep-in-albanian-mine
  • 5 days Putin and Xi Bet on the Global South
  • 5 days "(Another) Putin Critic 'Falls' Out Of Window, Dies"
  • 6 days United States LNG Exports Reach Third Place
  • 6 days Biden's $2 trillion Plan for Insfrastructure and Jobs

Breaking News:

U.S. Crude Oil, Gasoline Inventories Boom

Global Demand for Critical Minerals Spurs Recycling Debate

Global Demand for Critical Minerals Spurs Recycling Debate

The increasing demand for critical…

Trump Vows to Block U.S. Steel Acquisition

Trump Vows to Block U.S. Steel Acquisition

Steel prices decline as Nippon's…

Metal Miner

Metal Miner

MetalMiner is the largest metals-related media site in the US according to third party ranking sites. With a preemptive global perspective on the issues, trends,…

More Info

Premium Content

Growing Controversy over Molycorp’s Plans to Mine Rare Earth Elements

On Tuesday, the New York Times ran a story stating Molycorp, currently America’s only operating rare earth materials producer, will soon announce a heavy rare earth metal deposit right near its Mountain Pass operations. In addition, Molycorp has mining rights and regulatory approval for the deposit to “continue for decades.” According to the story, Molycorp CEO Mark Smith said in a phone interview on Monday that the company might be able to produce heavy rare earth metals in a little over a year. The heavy rare earths in the deposit include: europium, terbium, dysprosium and yttrium, according to Technology Metals Research. But instead of celebrating the “new” discovery (clearly Molycorp owners knew of this ore deposit for some amount of time), a mild controversy has ensued around the timing and motivation of the announcement.

What About the Timing?

According to Technology Metals Research, some of the comments it has received from readers follow this line of thought: “It’s no secret that Molycorp recently has its investment rating cut from overweight to neutral by JP Morgan, and that the company’s share price is at a fraction of its 52-week high.” In fact, Technology Metals Research co-founder Jack Lifton had this to say about the announcement.

“…Let me get this straight: in a solvent exchange (SX) plant not yet built, not yet proven in, or run up to capacity after the proving-in bugs are worked out, Molycorp is going to run process leach solution (PLS) from an ore concentrate that it has not yet determined can be produced, with an extraction efficiency that it has not yet determined to be economical – this additional HREE-containing PLS will be run simultaneously or on top of the PLS derived from the Mountain Pass bastnaesite concentrate – which has not yet been run in the new plant. All this in a year…This is complete and utter engineering and chemical nonsense.
Other than that – it’s a great story.”

In addition, TMR suggested:

“It’s something of an understatement to say that these communications from Molycorp contain some pretty bold claims. To be able to process the materials at the new HREE prospect in little over a year, as claimed by Mr. Smith, likely assumes that there are no modifications to either the budget, schedule or construction plans for the company’s new processing facility. Does this mean that Molycorp knew all along that it would potentially be including materials from this prospect, in its overall processing capabilities?”

We’ve heard stranger claims, but we take no position on the veracity of Molycorp’s announcement. What we do know for sure involves this – when manufacturers face a squeeze with their supply options, they respond with an engineering/problem-solving mindset.

So let’s assume we don’t view the world cynically. Why would Molycorp make this announcement at this time? The Times piece by Keith Bradsher offers up one compelling reason that we have discussed at length previously – “product substitution.” In other words, Molycorp may have gone to market with these findings to reassure a manufacturing buying audience that before it undertakes costly product engineering and re-design activities to drive substitution, an alternative, viable long-term source of domestic supply exists.

A second explanation for the announcement may simply involve timing. Molycorp may have wished to assure that same manufacturing audience that ample supply exists to counter the reduced global demand outlook for rare earth metals as quoted by the Times from industry expert Dudley Kingsnorth.

No matter Molycorp’s rationale or timing of its announcement, buying organizations won’t wait around for alternatives. As we said at the peak of 2008, “nothing kills high prices like high prices.”

ADVERTISEMENT

By. Lisa Reisman

MetalMiner is the largest metals-related media site in the US according to third party ranking sites. With a preemptive global perspective on the issues, trends, strategies, and trade policies that will impact how you source and/or trade metals and related metals services, MetalMiner provides unique insight, analysis, and tools for buyers, purchasing professionals, and everyone else for whom metals and their related markets matter.


Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage





Leave a comment

Leave a comment




EXXON Mobil -0.35
Open57.81 Trading Vol.6.96M Previous Vol.241.7B
BUY 57.15
Sell 57.00
Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News