burnin1965 writes in to let us know that the looming crisis in rare-earth materials (which we have discussed recently
) has prompted Molycorp, the erstwhile operator of a California mine closed in 2002, to announce plans to reopen it
"With increasing prices on rare earth ore, tariffs raised by the Chinese government, and the threat of embargoes that would damage United States high-tech manufacturing Molycorp now has the needed incentive to reopen the California Mountain Pass mine. They will spend the capital needed to implement badly needed updates to environmental controls that will mitigate the radioactive waste water releases that plagued the mine in the past. Chinese imports in the 90s nearly halved ore prices and the California mine experienced multiple failures in environmental controls that resulted in the release of huge volumes of radioactive waste water. Updating the mine to address the environmental issues was not financially viable due to the cheap Chinese imports so it was closed in 2002."
Within two years the mine could be producing 20% of the amount of rare earths we import from China