Is Utah Becoming a Center for Rare Earths?

23. September 2021 | Market

Energy Fuels wants to establish the processing of rare earths in the USA.

When it comes to rare earths, China comes to mind, but other countries also have deposits of these strategic raw materials. This also applies to the United States. What has been lacking there so far, however, are the processing plants for the extracted raw material. These, in turn, are mainly located in China. Against the background of the political tensions between the USA and China, efforts to establish a separate value chain for rare earths in the USA are increasingly gaining momentum.
Utah could become one of the most important hubs for these raw materials if the mining company Energy Fuels has its way. Actually specializing in the mining of uranium, the company began producing rare earth carbonate in November. This intermediate product will then be shipped to Estonia, where project partner Neo Performance Materials will handle further processing. Production in Utah is expected to gradually increase to up to 15,000 tons of carbonate annually.
As reported by the Denver Business Journal, Energy Fuels also plans to create capacity for this final processing operation in the USA. Assistance in building the necessary facilities is coming from French company Carester, which is also involved in rare earth recycling.
It should take two to three years for the refinery to come on line, according to company sources. The permit for the construction is still pending, which should be applied for within the next twelve months.

Photo: iStock/Michael Warren

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