August 5, 2011

BIG RARE-EARTH DEPOSIT found in Nebraska. “Elk Creek, Neb. (population 112), may not be so tiny much longer. Reports suggest that the southeastern Nebraska hamlet may be sitting on the world’s largest untapped deposit of ‘rare earth’ minerals, which have proved to be indispensable to a slew of high-tech and military applications such as laser pointers, stadium lighting, electric car batteries and sophisticated missile-guidance systems. . . . The potential mining operation, the first in the U.S. in a decade, could have an international impact as well. U.S. officials and lawmakers in Congress have been eager to break the near monopoly on global production of the 17 rare-earth elements in China, which has shown its willingness to use its power in the market for political ends. . . . The U.S. used to produce rare earths through the Mountain Pass Mine in California, but it was shut down in 2002, primarily because of environmental concerns, including the spillage of hundreds of thousands of gallons of water carrying radioactive waste into a nearby lake.”