A fantasy of growing and infinite demand and inelastic prices (prices not driven by simple supply and demand) increasing without limit, has placed the most emphasis on those rare-earth juniors who say that they will produce in the near term.
Despite a severe pullback in the prices of many rare earth metals mining stocks, constricting supplies and rising demand eventually will bring big profits to the select few companies sitting on rich deposits.
To my knowledge Molycorp has never actually explicitly said that they would produce separated MREOs/HREOs as part of the ramp up to 40,000t of, but the company has asserted that it will produce such elements in "commercially significant quantities."
Rare earths are an unsettling topic. Today, everyone tries to claim a concrete view on these materials since at least 2002. But unless you were a scientist or involved in making catalysts or magnets, you probably didn't know they existed until last year.
The real issue at hand in REE-dependent industries is supply shortages. While alternatives cannot be found for all uses, it is necessary for companies to evaluate their needs and the resulting costs. Because not all rare earths are created equal.
Competition among non-Chinese junior mining companies to successfully mine rare earth elements began as a footrace and evolved into a full-on stampede. That race is now unraveling, thanks in part to the sheer number of companies involved.
Overall, I was impressed with all aspects of the Strange Lake project, and the management team behind it. The project is clearly well on its way to completing the pre-feasibility study, and determining the flow sheets required to produce end products.
ARPA-E has selected a plethora of research projects for funding, including proposed alternatives to existing paradigms in energy and materials. The $31.6mm for Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Technologies has quite a few irons in the fire.