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Senators introduce bill to encourage US production of thorium and rare earth minerals

US Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Joe Manchin (W. Va.) introduced the “National Rare Earth Cooperative Act of 2014” this week, bipartisan legislation to encourage US production of rare earth metals (and thorium), relieving US dependence on China’s rare earth minerals.

Noting that thorium is a mildly radioactive element commonly associated with the lanthanide elements in the most heavy rare earth deposits that are located in the United States and elsewhere, and that current regulations regulations regarding thorium represent a barrier to the development of a heavy rare earth industry that is based in the United States, the act grants private rare earth suppliers and end-users with an opportunity to set up a thorium-bearing rare earth refining cooperative in America.

The bill proposes that:

It is the policy of the United States to advance domestic refining of heavy rare earth materials and the safe storage of thorium in anticipation of the potential future industrial uses of thorium, including energy, as—
(1) thorium has a mineralogical association with valuable heavy rare earth elements;
2) there is a great need to develop domestic refining capacity to process domestic heavy rare earth deposits; and
(3) the economy of the United States would benefit from the rapid development and control of intellectual property relating to the commercial development of technology utilizing thorium.

The bill proposes that as soon as practicable after enactment, the Cooperative Board, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, establish the Thorium Storage, Energy, and Industrial Products Corporation to develop uses and markets for thorium, including energy.

Thorium, among other uses, is of interest in advanced nuclear fuel cycles.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), rare earth elements are located in the Pea Ridge iron-ore mine in Washington County, Mo. Missouri also has a long mining history in various minerals, including some of the largest sources of lead deposits in the country.

Blunt is also a co-sponsor of Senators Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Lisa Murkowski’s (Alaska) Critical Minerals Bill, which directs the USGS to establish a list of minerals critical to the US economy and national security such as Rare Earth Elements.





Reid of Nevada and Hatch of Utah have been promoting this for many years, it has gone no where even though they are senior members in great standing.

We produce rare earth minerals, but we don't refine them, they are sent to China for refining. Another example of something needed, but not hugely profitable, so the private sector is not interested.

Bob Wallace

Rare earth processing is starting back up both in the US and Canada.

We used to have rare earth mines and processing but demand was somewhat low and China came in with a better price and collapsed the other world production.

Now demand is up and other companies/countries are getting back into the business. Australia and Malaysia are a couple more countries getting into the business.


The trick, to compete against Chinese rare earths, will be to buy the thorium at 10x the real value and store it for future military applications.

Rare earths can be cleanly extracted, as a by-product at a relative low cost, from alumina clay. ORBITE Mines will start massive production in about a year.



Future military applications for Thorium???


Oh no, this is a horrible idea. America should not waste its time producing this vitally important resource. ;) You should let your good friend and neighbour, Canada, do it for you. We'll be more than happy to sell you anything we can't use ourselves. j/k


It is the supply/demand mantra, to conservative capitalists the only things worth doing are the most profitable. Then they tell you they are the true Americans.



They are. It was they who found and developed, the Lithium desert brines of South America. It was their profit motive that closed in their less economic Lithium mines they owned and operated in America and moved production there. Awaiting the day that it would prove profitable to reopen them as they are now doing.

Tell me what have your Marxist heroes ever accomplished, other than stealing by taxation the work of others? Simply to provide ill gotten wealth for themselves, while producing nothing of value to anyone else.



You miss the point completely. Resorting to overblown rhetoric just ruins what ever point you are trying to make. My point is the sole focus being maximum profit leaves a lot that needs to be done.


Don't even bring Harry Reid in as a nuclear/rare earths savior. His Yucca Mountain grandstanding has set back nuclear thirty years. You'd think that if Yucca Mtn. were an inadequate waste solution, he would close it down and finance something else -- like reprocessing or heavens to betsy -- a LFTR reactor. It is projected that some kind of molten salt reactor could consume all or most of our 270 mm tons of US nuclear waste. Since lanthanides are radioactive daughters of thorium and uranics (which is why you find rare earths in thorium sands and thorium minerals) there you have our source of mineral wealth.

Believe me, Sen Blunt, a Republican, is only moving his locality in a direction of common sense not native it would seem, in dyed-in-the-wool Nevada.


I never said Reid was a rate earth "savior" YOU implied that I did. Reid and Hatch have proposed several bills in the past dealing with raee earth minerals and thorium, that is all I know.

People like YOU fly off the handle and accuse others of things they never did nor said. Perhaps if you took the time to actually read and listen to people you might find that you have more in common with them than you think, but that would get in the way or your ranting.


Who said I ranted? Who said I flew off the handle? You characterize Reid as a "senior member in great standing" -- with whom? The taxpayer? The scientific community? Health insurance subscribers? It is precisely because of his ilk that good mining bills 'go nowhere' -- his lack of vision, his lobbyist clubbiness, and his recent attitude that Washington should be a regulatory dictatorship of Democrat cronies.Nor is Orrin Hatch exactly proactive in good clean government management.

It is high time that SOME politics enter the mix of scientific discussion, lest the Permacongress cow us into a lala land of erronious facts and politics worship for the sake of politics worship.

No, you did not say anyone was a saviour, but there are probably representatives who have done far to advance truth and economic functionality than Harry Reid.

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