WHY WE CARE. The Bear Lodge Mountain Range in the Black Hills Region of Wyoming – Sacred Lands/Sites of Indigenous peoples and rural communities depend on clean water and land for spiritual and cultural practices, recreation, healthy living, agriculture, and more.
Rare Element Resources (RER) has been actively exploring for rare earth elements in the Bear Lodge mountains of the western Black Hills, north of Sundance, WY, since at least 2004. As of 2016, RER decided to suspend all permitting and licensing efforts to mine at Bear Lodge with the Forest Service and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
RER’s “Bear Lodge project” would be located approximately 12 miles (or 6 air miles) north of Sundance, WY. The mine area is approximately 1,700 acres; consisting of 1,060 acres of NFS lands and 640 acres of private lands. This project also plans to build a processing plant in Upton, WY. Last year (2021) RER received $21.9 million from the US Department of Energy and they say they have about $25 million in share offerings, so are barreling forward with that plan.
We are providing this following 7-page report on Rare Earths Elements (REE) as they are becoming more sought after in this age of “green” technology and this effects our region.
We need to be prepared – knowledge is power.
RARE EARTHS ARE MINERALS FOUND IN THE EARTH:
|Scandium and Yttrium—not technically lanthanides but often found in the same mineral assemblages and share similar chemical properties, so also considered rare earths.|
WHAT ARE RARE EARTHS AND WHY THEY ARE MINED?
Rare earth minerals, or rare earths, are 17 chemical elements also referred to as lanthanides. Rare earths are only “rare” in the sense that complex chemical processes are necessary to isolate the individual metals. Rare earths are found abundantly in the earth’s crust. For example, cerium, the most abundant rare earth, is more commonly found than copper or lead, and the least abundant rare earths are far more abundant than gold. Rare earths often occur alongside thorium, which has highly radioactive daughter products, including radium.
Rare earths have unique magnetic and optical properties, which makes them useful in producing glass, magnets, batteries, motors and generators, and lighting. Rare earths are increasingly important in the so-called “clean” energy sector in producing wind turbines and hybrid vehicles, in the electronics industry, and for military technologies such as weapons systems and lasers.
After the open-pit Mountain Pass Mine in California shut its doors from 2002 until 2011 due to massive environmental problems, China took the lead on producing rare earths globally. In 2012, China produced 95% of the world’s supply of rare earths. China’s share of rare earths production has gone down slightly since then, coming in around 80% in 2017. In 2020, mines in China supplied 55% of all rare earths mined worldwide, and Chinese refineries produced 85% of all rare earth refined products. Currently, besides China, rare earths are being produced in Russia, Estonia, India, Malaysia, Brazil, and the United States.
Click page 2 to continue to Rare Earths — Some History