Rare Earths: EPA Slaps Molycorp with Hazardous Waste Fine

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The US Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday that it has fined North America’s sole rare earths producer, Molycorp Minerals, $27,300 for improper management of hazardous waste at its Mountain Pass, California, facility. The violations were discovered during unannounced EPA inspections of Mountain Pass in October 2012.

Molycorp has invested more than $1.55 billion, creating 12 facilities to separate rare earths from each other and the soils where they are found. Molycorp Vice President Jim Sims said these facilities have eliminated past processes which resulted in the EPA fine.

EPA testing at Mountain Pass determined that leaked or spilled lead-iron filter cake had impacted on-site stormwater, with the potential to contaminate soil along the edge of the holding area. A majority of the impacted stormwater was treated prior to legal disposal into on-site surface impoundments.

The week’s biggest mover on the weekly Rare Earths MMI® was yttria, which saw a 8.3 percent decline to CNY 55,000 ($8,829) per metric ton. The past week saw lanthanum oxide close at CNY 21,000 ($3,371) per metric ton after a 4.5 percent decline. Following a 2.9 percent increase in the week prior, the price of dysprosium oxide fell 2.9 percent last week to CNY 1,700 ($272.89) per kilogram.

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The price of neodymium declined 2.4 percent over the past week, settling at CNY 415,000 ($66,616) per metric ton. The price of neodymium oxide fell 1.5 percent to CNY 320,000 ($51,367) per metric ton after rising 1.6 percent the week before. Following a 1.6 percent increase in the week prior, the price of neodymium oxide fell 1.5 percent last week to CNY 320,000 ($51,367) per metric ton. Cerium oxide remained essentially flat from the previous week at CNY 22,000 ($3,531) per metric ton.

Praseodymium neodymium oxide traded sideways last week, hovering around CNY 325,000 ($52,169) per metric ton. At CNY 580,000 ($93,102) per metric ton, the price of praseodymium oxide did not change since the previous week. Rare earth carbonate remained essentially flat from the previous week at CNY 25,000 ($4,013) per metric ton. Samarium oxide traded sideways last week, hovering around CNY 18,500 ($2,970) per metric ton.

At CNY 4,600 ($738.40) per kilogram, the week finished with no movement for terbium metal. At CNY 3,200 ($513.67) per kilogram, the price of terbium oxide did not change since the previous week. Yttrium prices held steady from the previous week at CNY 290.00 ($46.55) per kilogram.

The Rare Earths MMI® collects and weights 14 global rare earth metal price points to provide a unique view into rare earth metal price trends. For more information on the Rare Earths MMI®, how it’s calculated or how your company can use the index, please drop us a note at: info@agmetalminer.com.

 

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