San Bernardino County mine contains rare treasures

Rare-earth elements, a group of 17 metallic elements, are integral to the production of many technologically advanced tools and devices.

“The average person would be blown away by how much we interact with rare-earth elements on a daily basis, without even realizing it at all,” said Ryan Castilloux, a geologist and expert on rare-earth elements.

The elements will be instrumental in the U.S. transitioning to renewable energy and electric vehicles, but approximately 80% of the market is dominated by China, Castilloux said.

Outside of China, rare-earth elements are mined at a large scale in only two places.

Fortunately, one of those two places is near Mountain Pass in San Bernardino County, the home of the largest rare-earth mine in the Western Hemisphere.

“The world is rapidly decarbonizing and electrifying, and it’s imperative that we have resilient, adequate supplies of these materials to enable industry and government to move in that direction,” said Matt Sloustcher, senior vice president of communications for MP Materials.

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