Coal Age

JUL-AUG 2017

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32 www.coalage.com July/August 2017 reclaiming rare earths continued was lobbying the Trump administration to nationalize Mountain Pass, the shut- tered open-pit REEs mine located rough- ly half way between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The mine was once America's only potentially large-scale REEs mine. Silver said his goal is to turn the plant at the mine into a national lab capable of pro- cessing ore from mines around the con- tinent and by U.S. allies into REE oxides. Once owned by Chevron, the mine was purchased in 2008 by a consortium spearheaded by Goldman Sachs that went to market as Molycorp. The latter then systematically deceived the public before eventually filing for bankruptcy in 2015, according to James Kennedy, REEs sector consultant, former iron mine owner, and author of Earths in Re- view - A Decade of Decline and Deception. Kennedy is the subject of a new book, Sellout: How Washington Gave Away America's Technological Soul and One Man's Fight to Bring it Home. Coincident- ly, last month, Mountain Pass passed to a consortium backed by China's Leshan Shenghe Rare Earth Shareholding Co. Rival bidder Tom Clarke, owner of ERP Strategic Minerals, said he will challenge the sale in court. The reality that REEs supply is of national security and strategic impor- tance is what fueled the wave of inves- tors onboarding with Molycorp in 2007 and 2008, Kennedy reported. Molycorp promoted itself "as the best compa- ny to challenge China's monopoly." At the time, there were hundreds of REEs miners seeking startup money. Moly- corp attracted investors like moths to a flame, Kennedy reported. "The financial, technology and defense press coverage verged on euphoric." After being ranked as one of the year's top investments, reality set in. Ul- timately, the mine contained only lower value REEs, Kennedy reported. "These facts were concealed from investors, Congress and the Pentagon by promoting an over-simplistic narrative," he report- ed. "Wall street and the Pentagon bet the bank on Molycorp." The company never produced or supplied heavy lanthan- ides or commercial quantities of yttrium oxide, he reported. There are a number of reasons for the resulting bankruptcy, most having to do with the economics of processing REEs. For one, China owns the value chain, which likely cannot be repro- duced stateside without a major gov- ernment initiative. That is no accident, and China strategically manipulates the REEs markets to sink potential compet- itors, Kennedy said. Another reason is what Kennedy called the actinides prob- lem. "That means your rare earths are tied up mineralogically with thorium and uranium," Kennedy said. "That ma- terial is classified as source material. Consequently, the liabilities associated quakerchem.com info@quakerchem.com | 1.800.523.7010 DUSTGRIP® KEEPS YOU WORKING HARD BY KEEPING DUST IN ITS PLACE. © 2017 Quaker Chemical Corporation. All Rights Reserved. When you work in harsh conditions, the last thing you need is dust getting in your way. Quaker's dust suppressant product line, DUSTGRIP,® helps support a safer work environment, improve worker health, and optimize operational efficiency by significantly reducing airborne dust. And with over 30 years of industry experience, you won't find a better partner, especially when new regulations come down the line. So team up with Quaker, and when work conditions get rough, we'll make sure the dust settles. Trust a partner who knows the mining Industry from the Inside. Visit us at booth 705 to see how our DUSTGRIP® Dust Suppressants and MINETECH™ Ground Control Agents support a safe work environment and offer compliance solutions. And learn about the superior corrosion protection and wide water tolerance of QUINTOLUBRIC® 818-02 .

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