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raise…will become a mining explora- tion and development company.” At least one metalcasting facility

(a ferrous manufacturer in Wiscon- sin) has begun reducing the amount of cerium and lanthanum used in its treatment alloys. To offset the reduc- tion, the company has had to purchase higher grade scrap melt materials, which are more expensive than the metal previously used. As for silicon carbide, few alterna-

tives are available, according to Gupta. “All iron producers need silicon

and carbon in one form of another,” he said. “It is just a matter of what works best for [each facility]. Silicon carbide also has many metallurgical benefits, which is one of the reasons foundries use it. Unless there was a huge discrep- ancy in the price, I think it would still be a better product.” With the price of the material

The rare earth elements are comprised of the 15 lanthanides (beginning with lanthanum, La, above), scandium and yttrium.

realistic recourse is to find new sources for the material. In addition to NASA’s lunar exploration, reports have emerged that rich rare earth deposits might be found on the ocean floor, and several U.S. compa- nies say they are close to contribut- ing to the supply picture. According to a letter attributed to

its CEO, mining company Molycorp, Greenwood Village, Colo., plans to reopen a mine it closed several years ago due to environmental concerns. “Te U.S. has one of the world’s

largest and richest rare earth depos- its at Molycorp Minerals’ facility in Mountain Pass, Calif.,” CEO Mark

30 | MODERN CASTING August 2011

Smith writes in his letter. “At Moun- tain Pass, we are producing certain green elements, and plans are in place to bring the facility back into full production following an extensive modernization and expansion project.” Molycorp did not answer requests for further comments. Colorado Rare Earths Inc., Lonoke,

Ark., another company that declined requests for comment on the state of the domestic rare earth market, also is actively pursuing domestic sources for the metals. Te company calls itself a “mineral claims acquisition company” but says that it has secured several properties and “after a planned capital

steadily increasing (Peaslee reported a 75% hike since 2008), that day may someday come. In the meantime, one other avenue to relief may exist— legislation. According to Stepha- nie Salmon, a Washington insider employed in the Washington office of the American Foundry Society, Schaumburg, Ill., the National Strate- gic and Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2011 in the House of Representatives and the Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2011 in the Senate would direct the U.S. Geological Survey to establish a list of minerals critical to the U.S. economy and set out policies to ensure the nation is able to meet its mineral needs. “We’ve made step one in terms of a

victory on raw materials,” Salmon said. Peaslee remained skeptical. “Tere is only so much the gov-

ernment can do,” he said. “It is a free market world. People are allowed to buy and trade as they see fit. No one is going to say anything because we depend on each other so much.”

ONLINE RESOURCE Visit for cur- rent rare earth metal prices.

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