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DOD Taps MP Materials for Rare Earth Plant Construction Project

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The Department of Defense has awarded MP Materials a $35 million contract to establish a facility for processing heavy rare earth elements on the company’s Mountain Pass mining site in California.

DOD said Tuesday the public-private partnership envisions a first-of-its-kind plant equipped with domestic technologies that would extract, separate and integrate HREE products into military and commercial applications.

“The primary applications for HREEs include permanent magnets used in products ranging from electric motors in electric vehicles – to the energy generators within wind turbines,” said Deborah Rosenblum, acting defense undersecretary for industrial base policy.

To date, the department has poured more than $100 million into efforts aimed at growing the country’s rare earth sector.

“This effort will enable new domestic industrial capacity, to improve supply chain resilience and to operationalize the policies in Executive Order 14017 on America’s Supply Chains,” said Andrew Hunter, acting defense undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment.

As part of the agreement, MP will aim to identify approaches to match the production costs of similar elements sold in the global market within a five-year period.

One future customer for the HREE processing services is automotive manufacturing company General Motors, which signed an agreement with MP in December for the supply of rare earth materials and magnets to help power electric motors.