Although rare earths are critical for a cleaner and more sustainable future, extracting and processing them has historically been detrimental to the environment. Most of the rare earth industry today exists in China or Southeast Asia where environmental standards are more lenient than in the United States.
Beginning in 2010, more than $1.5 billion was invested in new mining and processing facilities at Mountain Pass. These state-of-the-art, environmentally-friendly facilities were completed with the oversight of state, local, and federal agencies to ensure compliance with the most stringent environmental standards in the world.
One of the key innovations at Mountain Pass is the elimination of wet tailings ponds found in most mining operations. MP Materials has a tailings processing plant that generates a dry cake, which is stored at a lined impound to protect groundwater. The water reclaimed from the tailings is recycled back into the production process, greatly reducing the need to draw fresh water supplies from the surrounding aquifers.
In the near future, MP Materials plans to operate an onsite combined heat and power (CHP) facility that utilizes clean natural gas to satisfy most of Mountain Pass’ energy needs. We will benefit from CHP’s higher energy efficiency and greater reliability when compared to other power sources.
MP Materials will continue to actively consider ways in which we can improve our operations towards a more sustainable future.