Where Molycorp mines rare earth elements (panoramas)

Here's a view overlooking Molycorp's facility in Mountain Pass, Calif., the only rare earth element mine in the United States.

MOUNTAIN PASS, Calif.--Here in a hot, dusty corner of Southern California desert, a set of 17 chemical elements in the periodic table--so critical to advanced technology industries that they're a matter of national security--are being unearthed.

Molycorp's rejuvinated $500 million facility, now under construction and set for completion in July 2012, will reduce the environmental impacts of the rare-earth-element-mining process and dramatically cut costs, providing a homegrown source for the elements used in so many national defense, energy, and consumer electronics products.

This week, I toured the facility here , the only place in the United States that is producing these critical elements of technology.



About the author

James Martin is the staff photographer at CNET News, covering the geeks and gadgets of Silicon Valley. When he's not live-blogging the latest product launches from Apple, Google, or Facebook, James can be found exploring NASA, probing robotics labs, and getting behind-the-scenes with some of the Bay Area's most innovative thinkers.

 

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