Unlike previous deals the company struck with the federal government, this upcoming plant will be funded entirely by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).
Last year, Lynas reached an agreement with the DoD to split the cost of expanding a light rare earths facility in Hondo. The new facility will separate heavy rare earth elements, named for their higher atomic mass.
The heavy rare earths facility will be the “first of its kind” in America, Lynas boasts.
Rare earths are minerals necessary for certain technologies such as electric cars and smartphones. China produces the vast majority of rare earths in the world.
Due to China’s dominance in the industry, the federal government has pursued the development of new rare earths plants in America.
In fact, U.S. Reps. Lance Gooden (R-TX-05) and Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX-15) partnered on a bill in 2020 that would have given tax breaks to rare earth mining operations. Sen. Ted Cruz introduced a similar bill earlier that year.
Lynas said the new plant, which should be fully operational by 2025, will bolster “future facing industries” as well as American national defense.
“As a result, U.S. industry will secure access to domestically produced Heavy Rare Earths which cannot be sourced today and which are essential to the development of a robust supply chain for future facing industries including electric vehicles, wind turbines and electronics,” the press release reads.
The heavy rare earths plant will cost approximately $120 million, all covered by the federal government.
A company spokeswoman declined to give the exact location of the new plant for now, but it will operate somewhere in the Gulf Coast region.
The minerals themselves will come from the company’s mine in Australia and will not be mined in Texas.
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