Once project financing is obtained and on-the-ground activity commences at the Project site, the Company can proceed without the air quality construction permit or a permit variance to conduct months of earthwork related to site preparation, land grading and clearing, drilling, geotechnical examination, equipment mobilization, temporary worker support infrastructure, off-site electrical and natural gas supply development, and other earthwork-related activities that are not directly associated with permanent Project features.
Rare earth metals are a group of 17 elements - lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, lutetium, scandium, yttrium - that appear in low concentrations in the ground.
California's Mountain Pass mine is the only operating U.S. rare earths facility. But MP Materials, owner of Mountain Pass, ships the roughly 50,000 tonnes of rare earth concentrate it extracts each year from California to China for processing. China has imposed a tariff of 25% on those imports during the trade war.
The U.S. Commerce Department earlier in June recommended the United States take urgent steps to boost domestic rare earth production, warning that a halt in Chinese supplies could disrupt global supply chains.
The report recommended short-term measures such as stockpiling and longer-term measures to explore, develop and process more rare earth.
The U.S. Defense Department is also seeking federal funds to increase domestic rare earth production. Senators in May introduced legislation to encourage the sector's development.