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.
Many of today’s technologies are possible because of a special mineral group called rare earth elements. Currently, China produces about 97-percent of all rare earths consumed, but a global race is underway to produce more. The recent discovery of rare earths in the northwest corner of the state may make Wyoming a major player, and plans for a proposed processing plant may change the game even more for producers and consumers.