Since founding privately held USA Rare Earths three years ago, Pini Althaus has focused on turning his vision of creating a secure supply of rare earth elements in the United States a reality.
The New York-based CEO is equally determined to establish REE separation and processing capability in the U.S. and build manufacturing facilities for magnets containing the critical elements that are used in everything from American Tomahawk missiles and fighter jets to electric vehicles and wind turbines.
It’s essential, he said, in order to wean the world from its dependence on processing REEs in China, which in recent years has also become a net REE importer.
Based on a CRU Rare Earth market study last year, the global market for rare earth oxides is about US$3.4 billion annually (165,000 tonnes), Althaus pointed out, and not only does China have a monopoly on rare earth processing but the U.S. is the largest single importer of rare earths in the world and gets an estimated 80% of the material from China.
Currently there are only two significant primary rare earth mines owned by Western companies and operated outside China: Lynas Corp.’s (ASX: LYC; US-OTC: LYSDY), Mt Weld mine in Australia (which sends its concentrate to Malaysia for processing) and MP Materials’ Mountain Pass mine in California (which ships its concentrate to China).
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