California Production Grew by Nearly 40% in 2014
Rare earth oxide equivalent production at Molycorp’s Mountain Pass, Calif. mine totaled 4,785 metric tons in 2014, up from 3,473 metric tons in 2013 – a gain of 37.7%. Fourth quarter production last year was nearly double that of the final three months of 2013.
Even higher production volumes at Mountain Pass this year “should coincide with relatively strong demand the Company is seeing for products such as the magnetic rare earth material neodymium/praseodymium, lanthanum, and light rare earth concentrate,” states a release.
“We were pleased to see our production increase in the fourth quarter relative to the preceding quarter and year-on-year,” Molycorp president and CEO Geoff Bedford said in a release.
Hedging Against China
“Rare earth pricing softened in Q4 with market uncertainty surrounding release of final details of China’s ongoing reforms to rare earth mining, separation, and export regulatory policies,” he said.
“However, given the relatively strong internal and external demand we are seeing for many Mountain Pass products, continuing to boost production there is a top operational priority.”
Rare earths are used for the permanent magnet motors and other components of electric drive vehicles, and are critical too for smartphones. China has dominated production in recent years, leading to supply concerns, as production at Mountain Pass was halted, ending 50 years of production, due to environmental concerns in 2002.
Molycorp launched “Operation Phoenix” in 2010 and re-started production in 2012.
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Source: Molycorp with Fleets & Fuels follow-up