The first rare earth minerals mine to open in the U.S. in decades could be here in Wyoming. Permitting gets underway this week for the Bear Lodge mine, near Sundance. Rare earths are a group of metals that are critical to high tech devices like smartphones and lasers. They’re currently mined almost exclusively in China. Rare Element Resources’ George Byers says the company is hoping to change that.
“We have done preliminary economic estimates, pre-feasibility studies, and now we’re at a point of kicking off a feasibility study. But yeah, we have an environmental impact statement in progress now. We have what will be the next rare earths mine in the USA,” says Byers.
If the project moves forward as planned, the company would also have a processing plant just outside Upton.
The proposed site is on federal land, so it will need a permit from the Forest Service. It will also need permits from the Wyoming Industrial Siting Commission, the Department of Environmental Quality and the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Public scoping meetings on the Forest Service permit will be held in Sundance and Upton on April 14 and 15, respectively.