• 2 days PDVSA Booted From Caribbean Terminal Over Unpaid Bills
  • 2 days Russia Warns Ukraine Against Recovering Oil Off The Coast Of Crimea
  • 2 days Syrian Rebels Relinquish Control Of Major Gas Field
  • 2 days Schlumberger Warns Of Moderating Investment In North America
  • 2 days Oil Prices Set For Weekly Loss As Profit Taking Trumps Mideast Tensions
  • 2 days Energy Regulators Look To Guard Grid From Cyberattacks
  • 2 days Mexico Says OPEC Has Not Approached It For Deal Extension
  • 2 days New Video Game Targets Oil Infrastructure
  • 2 days Shell Restarts Bonny Light Exports
  • 3 days Russia’s Rosneft To Take Majority In Kurdish Oil Pipeline
  • 3 days Iraq Struggles To Replace Damaged Kirkuk Equipment As Output Falls
  • 3 days British Utility Companies Brace For Major Reforms
  • 3 days Montenegro A ‘Sweet Spot’ Of Untapped Oil, Gas In The Adriatic
  • 3 days Rosneft CEO: Rising U.S. Shale A Downside Risk To Oil Prices
  • 3 days Brazil Could Invite More Bids For Unsold Pre-Salt Oil Blocks
  • 3 days OPEC/Non-OPEC Seek Consensus On Deal Before Nov Summit
  • 3 days London Stock Exchange Boss Defends Push To Win Aramco IPO
  • 3 days Rosneft Signs $400M Deal With Kurdistan
  • 4 days Kinder Morgan Warns About Trans Mountain Delays
  • 4 days India, China, U.S., Complain Of Venezuelan Crude Oil Quality Issues
  • 4 days Kurdish Kirkuk-Ceyhan Crude Oil Flows Plunge To 225,000 Bpd
  • 4 days Russia, Saudis Team Up To Boost Fracking Tech
  • 4 days Conflicting News Spurs Doubt On Aramco IPO
  • 4 days Exxon Starts Production At New Refinery In Texas
  • 5 days Iraq Asks BP To Redevelop Kirkuk Oil Fields
  • 5 days Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 5 days Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 5 days China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 5 days UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 5 days Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 5 days VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 5 days Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 5 days Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
  • 5 days OPEC Oil Deal Compliance Falls To 86%
  • 6 days U.S. Oil Production To Increase in November As Rig Count Falls
  • 6 days Gazprom Neft Unhappy With OPEC-Russia Production Cut Deal
  • 6 days Disputed Venezuelan Vote Could Lead To More Sanctions, Clashes
  • 6 days EU Urges U.S. Congress To Protect Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 6 days Oil Rig Explosion In Louisiana Leaves 7 Injured, 1 Still Missing
  • 6 days Aramco Says No Plans To Shelve IPO
Alt Text

World’s Biggest Miner Prepares For The EV Boom

The world’s top mining company…

Alt Text

Busting The Lithium Bubble Myth

Lithium demand continues to grow…

Survey Shows U.S. Has Abundant Rare Earth Supplies

Survey Shows U.S. Has Abundant Rare Earth Supplies

In the headlines lately has been news of China's monopoly of rare earth elements (REE), adding to China's growing clout. It would increase their leverage should they choose to reduce exports, causing REE prices to soar. The United States imports almost all of its REE from China, putting it in a position of geopolitical weakness. In light of this circumstance, the US Geological Survey (USGS) has conducted a study to map out the presence of REE found domestically. It turns out that rare earth elements in the United States are not so rare.

Rare earth elements are a group of 17 metallic elements that are essential for high technology applications. They all have unique electrical, optical, and thermal properties that distinguish them from more common minerals. REE are composed of Scandium (#21 on the periodic table, Yttrium (#39), and lanthanides (#57-71) which include Lanthanum, Promethium, and Europium.

Since most people are not geologists or high-tech engineers, these elements are unfamiliar. Yet without them, many of our current technologies would not exist, such as lasers, color TVs, certain computer components and batteries, and long-distance fiber optic cables. Newer technologies that require them include electric vehicles and photo-voltaic cells.

Rare earth elements are found commonly throughout the Earth's crust, but rarely in economically recoverable concentrations. They are often found in hard-rock deposits. The USGS study analyzed these deposits as well as placer and phosphorite deposits. They estimate that the United States holds about 13 million metric tons of REE within its borders. At a consumption rate of about 10,000 metric tons annually, these deposits can potentially meet demands for 1,300 years barring any changes.

"This is the first detailed assessment of rare earth elements for the entire nation, describing deposits throughout the United States," commented USGS Director Marcia McNutt, Ph.D. "It will be very important, both to policy-makers and industry, and it reinforces the value of our efforts to maintain accurate, independent information on our nation's natural resources."

The USGS found significant deposits in the following 14 states:

Northeast: New York
Southeast: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida
Midwest: Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska
West: New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, California, Alaska

The largest deposits were found at Mountain Pass, California; Bokan Mountain, Alaska; and Bear Lodge Mountains, Wyoming. The Mountain Pass REE mine previously supplied the US but it closed down in 2002, due to cheaper REE prices from China and environmental
 restrictions. In 2008, it was sold by Chevron to Molycorp Minerals LLC which plans to reopen it in 2011.

Now that China's hold on the REE market is clear, the US and other countries such as Australia and Canada are exploring their own reserves. Development of domestic supplies could help meet increasing demands and shield industry from potential cuts in Chinese exports. In this sense, rare earth elements have become a national security issue. It should then come as no surprise that the USGS study was funded by the US Department of Defense. Thanks to this study, domestic users of REE should feel a little more comfortable to know that they are not completely dependent on overseas supplies.

By. David Gabel

Source: Environmental News Network




Back to homepage


Leave a comment
  • Anonymous on November 25 2010 said:
    Problem with that isn't avaailability but cost. Presumably the Chinese could undercut US prices for REE to a significant degree. If US-produced REE made all the electronic gadgetry that much more expensive, most hi tech firms would rather make deals with the Chinese for cheaper than have to buy and therefore sell more expensive for ;'national security;. If the DoD ordered the survey then its they who intend to budget for perhaps more expensive but secure REE sources. They would then have to budget more for that and less for something else. Esp. in times of austerity. Is there also a question of quality? Are Chinese REE of higher, similar or lower quality to what might be found in the US? Just like N American shale oil is less usable than ME oil.

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News