As the Associated Press reports, Molycorp, the leading edge of the U.S. re-entry into Rare Earths production, has acquired a controlling share in Estonia-based Silmet, one of only two rare earths refineries in Europe. The deal will allow Molycorp to double its planned production capacities to roughly 6,000 tons per year.
Molycorp’s move shows us that this won’t be your grandfather’s Rare Earths sector. In today’s globalized economy, domestic resource development does not occur in a vacuum, and mining companies can enlarge their footprints — globally.
Industry analysts are going to examine this deal carefully, and they’ll have plenty of questions about the business case behind it. But at a time when resource-rich China, from which so many minerals and metals are currently sourced, is cutting back on exporting Rare Earths and other resources, we’re seeing the so-called “Rest of the World” react. Molycorp’s move won’t be the last.