MP Materials’ mine in Mountain Pass, Calif., is the only operational rare earth mine in the United States. Credit: Steve Marcus/Reuters

CSSM Director, Eric Schelter, was interviewed and quoted for an article on critical materials policy in the NYTimes. The article “U.S. Companies Vie for Funds in Race to Build Rare Earths Industry,” by Zach Montague, examined government investment in building up a domestic supply chain for production of purified, critical rare earth metals. Rare earth metals are essential components in numerous technologies, including renewable energy- and national security technologies, but their primary production is technically challenging and produces large quantities of environmentally harmful waste. Most global rare earths production occurs in China, a situation that the U.S. government is seeking to change through investment in new domestic suppliers. Schelter was quoted as saying: 

“In some sense, the first steps are relatively easy and well-understood, but the real challenge to make money is to do the separation.”

In describing the landscape for rare earth producers domestically, Schelter went on to say: 

“The government wants to, in the best case, change the playing field for these new producers, pick them out and give them a better shot, and maybe that will work,”

“Maybe a couple of them will be able to get established and have a process that is sustainable long-term, both in terms of the economy and environment,” he said. “But at this point it’s too soon and too hard to tell which, or any, of those it would be.”

Read the article here.