United States

Mountain Pass Mine

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Overview

Mine TypeOpen Pit
StatusActive
Commodities
  • REE
Mining Method
  • Truck & Shovel / Loader
Production Start... Lock
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SnapshotMountain Pass is one of the richest deposits of rare earth elements in the world. The MP Materials has established a three-stage business plan.

Through its upstream operations (Stage I) the MP Materials produces rare earth concentrate. In November 2023, the MP Materials announced its “Upstream 60K” strategy whereby the Company intends to grow its annual REO Production Volume to approximately 60,000 MTs by expanding upstream capacity.

In 2023, the MP Materials commenced midstream operations (Stage II) to produce separated rare earth products. Full capacity is expected to be achieved by the end of 2024. The separations facility allows to separate the bastnaesite concentrate into four saleable products: PrNd oxide, SEG+ oxalate, La carbonate, and Ce chloride.

Lastly, the Company is establishing downstream (Stage III) capabilities at its Fort Worth Facility to convert a portion of the REO produced at Mountain Pass into rare earth magnets and its precursor products.

Owners

SourceSource
CompanyInterestOwnership
MP Materials Corp. (operator) 100 % Indirect
MP Materials Corp. owns and operates the Mountain Pass Rare Earth Mine and Processing Facility.

Contractors

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Deposit type

  • Carbonatite hosted

Summary:

Mountain Pass is a carbonatite hosted rare earth deposit (USGS Deposit Model 10; Singer, 1986). The mineralization is hosted principally in carbonatite igneous rock. Mountain Pass is the only known example of a rare earth deposit in which bastnaesite is mined as the primary magmatic economic mineral in the world (Haxel, 2004).

Mineralization occurs entirely within the carbonatitic portion of the currently drilled geologic sections, although grade distribution internal to this mineralized zone is variable. Higher grade zones (>10% TREO) tend to occur in lenses parallel to the hangingwall/footwall contacts, both downdip and along strike. Continuity of mineralization internal to the carbonatite zone is well defined both along strike and downdip.

The currently defined zone of rare earth mineralization exhibits a strike length of approximately 2,750 ft (850 m) in a north-northwest direction and extends for approximately 3,000 ft (930 m) downdip from surface. The true thickness of the >2.0% TREO zone ranges between 15 to 250 ft (5 to 75 m).

Globally, carbonatites are subdivided into two main groups: apatite-magnetite bearing, mined for iron and/or phosphorus ± various by-products, and rare-earth bearing carbonatites. Many other commodities may be present in economically significant concentrations, such as uranium, thorium, titanium, copper, vermiculite, zirconium, niobium, and phosphorus (Singer, 1986). The majority of carbonatite complexes display a series of variable carbonatitic magma compositions, the majority of which are not significantly enriched in rare earths. Mountain Pass is unique in that the carbonatite does not exhibit such variation and has significant intervals of elevated rare earths throughout its entirety.

The southern part of the Sulfide Queen orebody strikes to the south-southeast and dips at 40° to the west-southwest; the northern part of the orebody strikes to the north-northeast and dips at some 40° to the west-north-west. Several post-mineralization faults result in slight offsets to the otherwise simple tabular/lensoid geometry. The total orebody strike length is approximately 2,750 feet (ft) and dip extent is 3,000 ft; true thickness of the more than 2.0% total rare earth oxide (TREO) grade zone ranges between 15 ft and 250 ft.

The main rare-earth-bearing mineral, bastnaesite, is present in all carbonatite subtypes, but in relatively lower proportions in the breccias and the monazitic carbonatites which typically occur mainly outside of and close to the main orebody. Monazite and crocidolite (“blue ore” found on the hangingwall contact in the northern part of the orebody) are both undesirable in the processing plant. In some areas, post mineral fault zones provide a conduit for water which results in localized alteration of the fresh carbonatite. Alteration dissolves the calcite and dolomite gangue minerals, leaving behind elevated concentrations of bastnaesite with limonite resulting in what is referred to as brown and black ore types, the most altered of which become a loosely consolidated very high grade bastnaesite sand. The altered ore types are mined, stockpiled separately and blended at a minorproportion to maintain target ore grades in the mill feed blend.

Reserves

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Mining Methods

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Comminution

Crushers and Mills

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Processing

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Production

CommodityProductUnits202320222021202020192018
Total Rare Earth Oxides wmt  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe
REO Equivalent Oxide in concentrate t  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe27,62013,914
Nd2O3+Pr6O11 Oxide in concentrate t  ....  Subscribe

Operational metrics

Metrics20232022202120192018
Daily processing capacity  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe
Tonnes milled  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe542,668 t342,891 t
Ore tonnes mined  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe598,683 tons564,228 tons
Waste  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe7,835,940 tons8,080,530 tons
Total tonnes mined  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe9,642,323 tons9,477,454 tons

Production Costs

CommodityUnits20232022202120202019
Cash costs (sold) Total Rare Earth Oxides USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe 1,980 / t  

Financials

Units202320222021202020192018
Revenue M USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe 73.4   67.4  
Operating Income M USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe -7.6   -8.9  
Pre-tax Income M USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe -6.8   -13.5  
After-tax Income M USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe -6.8   -13.5  
EBITDA M USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe 1.9   -3.4  
Operating Cash Flow M USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe -0.4   20.2  

Heavy Mobile Equipment

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Personnel

Mine Management

Job TitleNameProfileRef. Date
....................... Subscription required ....................... Subscription required Subscription required Mar 6, 2024
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EmployeesYear
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Aerial view:

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