The Round Top heavy rare earth and lithium mine, in Texas, is set to be an important asset for supply chains essential to the US economy, developer USA Rare Earths said on Friday, noting that the mine would produce nearly half of the minerals on the new US government critical minerals list.
Round Top, in Hudspeth county, contains 22 of the 50 critical minerals, including gallium, that the US Geological Survey (USGS) deems as critical to the US economy.
The USGS last month released a draft of the 50 mineral commodities proposed for inclusion in the 2021 critical minerals list. This is the first update since the Department of Interior identified 35 critical minerals in 2018.
In February 2021, the USGS identified Round Top as the largest gallium deposit in the US. Gallium is a critical semiconductor chip material, for which there are currently no US producers. The USGS also deemed 16 rare earths as critical, including neodymium, dysprosium, praseodymium, and terbium, which are used in the manufacturing of rare earth permanent magnets, and which will be produced by USA Rare Earth.
“USA Rare Earth is developing a fully domestic mine-to-magnet supply chain, while the lithium at Round Top will also support the manufacture of battery electric vehicles. These are two essential components to the future of electric transportation,” said USA Rare Earth president Thayer Smith.
“Our project is a geologically unique and diverse deposit that will help bolster US critical minerals production.”
Round Top is anticipated to become operational in 2023. At the planned initial production rate, Round Top has sufficient identified resources to operate for more than 100 years.