Friday, September 4, 2009

Molycorp May Invest $400 Million to Expand Rare-Earths Mine

This is what the Chinese are afraid of. They want to raise prices enough to enjoy monopoly margins but not so much that it becomes worthwhile to bring on non-Chinese production. From Bloomberg:

Molycorp Minerals LLC, the only U.S. producer of rare earths, may spend up to $400 million expanding output by more than nine times to meet rising minerals demand from makers of hybrid cars, computer chips and televisions.

The company, planning to expand output to around 20,000 metric tons, is seeking a supply agreement with a U.S.-based magnet producer, Chief Executive Officer Mark Smith said today in an interview.

“We will focus on supplying outside of China,” Smith said while attending a conference in Beijing. “From what we understand from our customers, demand for rare earths will far exceed the amount we plan to produce.”

Surging production of hybrid cars and music players such as Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius and Apple Inc.’s iPod have driven up demand for rare earths. China, accounting for more than 90 percent of global rare-earth output, yesterday said supplies of two rare earths may not be enough to meet domestic consumption.

Molycorp will produce about 2,150 tons of rare earths this year including cerium, lanthanum, praseodymium and neodymium, according to a presentation by Smith. The company is backed by investors including Resource Capital Funds and Goldman Sachs Group, according to its Web site.

The Colorado-based privately held company will seek rare- earths deposits in Vietnam, Canada and Africa, Smith said....MORE