But the Lone Star State might have another hidden gem that will make it the dominant producer of another natural resource: rare earth minerals.
USA Rare Earth, with its joint venture partner Texas Mineral Resources Corporation, said that its West Texas mining project contains nearly half of the minerals listed by the US Geological Survey (USGS) on the agency’s list last provisional list of critical minerals.
The USGS has identified 50 mineral products that it deems “vital to the nation’s economic and national security interests,” including 16 of the 17 rare earths.
To date, the vast majority of rare earth minerals are mined and processed in China. Many lawmakers and officials fear that the United States’ dependence on the communist nation for vital resources for modern defense technologies poses a threat to national security.
But there is only one rare earth mineral mine and processing center in the United States, the Mountain Pass mine in California. That should change soon, however.
Located in Hudspeth County, United States, Rare Earth claims Round Top Mountain can be mined for 22 critical resources, including all rare earth minerals on the USGS list.
The company expects the project – which, in addition to the mine itself, will use a re-commissioned permanent magnet fabrication system to process materials – will become operational in 2023.
Earlier this year, the USGS also identified Round Top as the nation’s largest gallium deposit – what it considers the highest priority of the 50 Critical Minerals.
The agency estimates that the site contains 36,500 metric tonnes of the resource.
One of the primary uses for gallium is in semiconductor manufacturing, a growing industry in the Lone Star State. In October, Governor Greg Abbott announcement the formation of the “National Semiconductor Centers Task Force” to determine the location of a future federal center and program in the field.
“As of 2021, Texas was ranked number 1 in the country for its semiconductor leadership, and we continue to see significant capital investment in areas of the state,” Abbott said. In addition, the Lone Star State has prioritized the development of our large and highly skilled workforce in this industry, ranking number 2 nationally for employment in semiconductor and machinery manufacturing. , employing more than 29,000 Texans. “
But semiconductor manufacturing isn’t the only modern tech industry in Texas to experience a growth boom.
More and more electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers, such as You’re here and Rivien, are lining up to build their products in the Lone Star State.
This particular growth has come from the push in government incentives, from local tax breaks to government grants. Texas Enterprise Fund, or funding in the recent federal infrastructure bill to create a wider network of EV charging stations.
But to build the new types of electric vehicles, producers must rely on processed rare earths and other essential minerals – a need the West Texas project hopes to meet.
“USA Rare Earth is developing a fully domestic supply chain from mine to magnet, while Round Top lithium will also support the manufacture of battery-electric vehicles,” said Thayer Smith, president of USA Rare Earth. “These are two essential elements for the future of electric transport.”
The company says based on an economic assessment conducted in 2019 for a 20-year mining plan, the operation is expected to generate “an internal rate of return of 70% and average annual net revenues of $ 395 million per year. after average royalties of $ 26. millions per year payable to the State of Texas.