The US government has entered into an agreement with Lynas Rare Earths Ltd. to construct a light rare earth elements separation facility in Texas, according to a report from Reuters. The plant would produce 5,000 metric tons per year of rare earth products, including 1,250 metric tons per year of neodymium-praseodymium as oxides and other compounds. The agreement is expected to be funded by the US Department of Defense and Lynas, which is the largest non-Chinese commercial producer of separated rare earth products with headquarters in Kuantan, Malaysia.
The Texas project is part of Lynas’s 2025 plan, and the facility will receive material from the cracking and leaching plant currently being developed by Lynas in Kalgoorlie, Australia. The light rare earth elements facility will complement the US government’s previously announced plans with Lynas to construct a heavy rare earth separation facility in Texas. It’s expected that the company would collocate both rare earth separation facilities.
The market analysis company Roskill notes that the agreements between Lynas and the US government align with North America’s efforts to secure domestic sources of separated rare earth materials to reduce dependence on Chinese supplies. North America has var-ious rare earth mineral resources, including the Mountain Pass mine in California.
In addition to the planned separation facilities in Texas, Texas Mineral Resources Corp. and privately held USA Rare Earth have announced a plan to spend up to $12 million to build a pilot plant in Colorado to refine strategic minerals. The Colorado facility would be near industry consultants and academics in that area, which includes the Colorado School of Mines and the Colorado Mining Association. The pilot plant will help the companies nalize supply deals, and the full-scale plant would be located near the Round Top mine in rural west Texas with full-scale operations planned to begin in 2023. The companies stated that they did apply for funding from the US military for the project, but that they didn’t need the funding to build the pilot plant and didn’t want to wait for approvals to move forward with the plans for the pilot plant in Colorado. 4-21