USA Rare Earth finishes Phase 1 testing for Texas project

Round Top rare earths project is located outside El Paso, Texas. Image from USA Rare Earth.

USA Rare Earth, the funding and development partner of the Round Top Heavy Rare Earth project in West Texas, together with Texas Mineral Resources, announced Tuesday that it has successfully completed its Phase I bench scale testing at Inventure Renewables laboratory in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

USA Rare Earth, which has ambitious plans to establish a domestic rare earths supply chain, is also purchasing the equipment necessary to build the only rare earth magnet production facility in the Americas.

This milestone, it said, demonstrates the ability to load and concentrate rare earths (REE’s) in the presence of high concentrations of non-REEs, including other critical minerals like lithium. 

“This is an important step towards USA Rare Earth’s objective to build the first rare earth and critical minerals processing facility outside China and to bring the Round Top project into full commercial production,” said Pini Althaus, CEO of USA Rare Earth in a media release.

These results provide the baseline for initiating the Pilot Plant operation at USA Rare Earth’s rare earth and critical minerals processing facility in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

The first of three Continuous Ion Exchange (CIX) Pilot Plant units was delivered in early March and is planned to be commissioned in early June as covid-19 related travel restrictions are relaxed, the company said.