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Mountain Pass, San Bernardino County, California.
The world's largest lanthanide mine in the Mojave Desert between Barstow, California and Las Vegas, Nevada was regulated out of business by twenty-nine local, state and federal agencies and by elected and appointed government officials.
The People's Republic of China becomes the principal source of these strategic minerals.
This California deposit was accidentally discovered by three uranium prospectors in 1949 while prospecting under the 1872 mining law. Never before had such a large deposit of rare earth minerals (lanthanides) been found in one location. The "uranium" found proved to be uneconomic thorium, but the lanthanide minerals found here touched off a high-tech revolution.
The Molybdenum Corporation of America (Molycorp, now owned by Unocal) invested millions of dollars in researching potential uses for these minerals. America became the dominant force in developing this series of elements for a wide range of high-tech uses.
Europium was one of the first elements to be marketed and is used to produce the red color in television.
Samarium and neodynium are the elements required to produce super magnets which, when used in electric motors, reduce the motor's weight and size by 50%. This new technology of miniaturized electric motors is half the equation for a pollution-free electric car.
Other rare elements found here are used in computer technology, in replacing platinum catalysts for refining crude oil and in strategic military applications. Rare earth elements used as catalysts increase the production of gasoline per barrel of oil.
According to Gene Dewey recently retired president of Molycorp, the element lanthium can be used to increase the energy efficiency of lighting by up to 50%. If all the lights in America were converted to this technology, half of all the energy consumed in lighting could be saved.
During Molycorp's routine flushing of their tailings pipeline, several thousand gallons of fresh water was accidentally dumped in the Mojave Preserve, which is managed by the National Park Service. The company immediately offered to clean up the spill, but federal officials delayed the process for months.
Twenty-nine government agencies arrived on the scene paralyzing the cleanup efforts with conflicting regulations and agendas. Senator Diane Feinstein and Representative George Miller encouraged former Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt to impose Draconian cleanup measures and fines on the company.
The Mountain Pass mine is located at the north end of an 80-mile trend of rare earth mineralization, and is possibly the largest known occurrence of rare earths in the world. These lanthanides occur in a pre-Cambrian carbonatite sill in a mineral called bastnaesite.
Less than a decade ago, Feinstein and Miller passed the California desert Wilderness Act, placing this national asset off limits inside new national parks and wilderness areas. This latest regulatory outrage was the coup de grace for America's rare earth industry. Former Molycorp president Gene Dewey said, "They simply made it impossible for the company to mine lanthanides in America."
US Fish and Wildlife and California Department of Fish and Game SWAT teams seized the company computers and records at gunpoint. They held the employees incommunicado under armed guard, denying them access to the company attorneys who were held outside at the main gate. These federal agencies leveled more than $6 million in fines and penalties against the company. This includes $1 million for a dead desert tortoise that was found on the property. An autopsy on the tortoise failed to show any wrongdoing on the part of the company.
With Mountain Pass Mine out of business, we are dependent on foreign sources for our supply of these minerals. Since other countries produce only small amounts of rare earths, nearly all of these militarily strategic minerals now come from Communist China.
Note: For a detailed report see the American Investigator documentary "Desert Storm Troopers" at www.aitvshow.com, purchase price is $24.90 including free shipping. It can be purchased by sending a check to American Investigator TV, 270 Redwood Shores Pkwy #59, Redwood City CA, 94065. Or contact Dana Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 650-654-1555.