X

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.

James Martin Managing Editor, Photography
James Martin is the Managing Editor of Photography at CNET. His photos capture technology's impact on society - from the widening wealth gap in San Francisco, to the European refugee crisis and Rwanda's efforts to improve health care. From the technology pioneers of Google and Facebook, photographing Apple's Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Google's Sundar Pichai, to the most groundbreaking launches at Apple and NASA, his is a dream job for any documentary photography and journalist with a love for technology. Exhibited widely, syndicated and reprinted thousands of times over the years, James follows the people and places behind the technology changing our world, bringing their stories and ideas to life.
Expertise Photojournalism | Portrait photography | Behind-the-scenes Credentials
  • 2021 Graphis Photography Awards, Gold Award, Journalism, 'The Doorway' Graphis Photography Awards, Silver Award, Portrait, 'Cast of film '1917'' Graphis Photography Awards, Silver Award, Environmental, 'Upper Lola Montez' ND Awards, Architecture, 'Taj Mah
James Martin

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.