(Reuters) - Molycorp Inc, the largest U.S. producer of rare-earth metals, is set to announce its finding of a new rare-earth deposit at a conference in Washington on Tuesday, the New York Times said.
The new ore deposit, which is of heavier variety, is on land near Mountain Pass, California, near the Nevada border, where the company has been mining since the early 1950s and has regulatory approval to continue mining and refining for decades.
Molycorp’s Chief Executive Mark Smith told NY Times in a telephone interview that the company might be able to begin producing heavy rare earths in a little over a year from now.
Smith told the newspaper that the ore is near the surface and would require very little strip mining.
Rare earths -- both the “light” and “heavy” varieties -- are used to produce a range of green-energy technologies, including compact fluorescent light bulbs and hybrid-electric vehicles.
Molycorp currently produces rare-earth products from stockpiled concentrate. The company is in the process of a $781 million expansion and modernization of its Mountain Pass mine and processing facilities in California.
Rare-earth oxide and metal prices have spiked as China, which produces some 95 percent of the world’s supply, has repeatedly clamped down on exports.
Molycorp could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters outside regular U.S. business hours.
Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman