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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals and minerals 1978-79
Year 1978-79, Volume 1 (1978-1979)

Moore, Christine M.
Rare-earth minerals and metals,   pp. 735-742 PDF (915.0 KB)


Page 736

736 
MINERALS YEARBOOK, 1978-79 
DOMESTIC PRODUCTION 
 Concentrate.—Domestic production of REO in bastnäsite
and monazite
in 1979 increased 15% from the 1978 level. Production of REO in bastnäsite
and monazite in 1978 was slightly below the 1977 level. Bastnäsite
continued
to be the major domestic source of rare earths; the remainder, less than
1091, was produced from monazite. 
 Molycorp, Inc., produced bastnäsite concentrate at its Mountain
Pass,
Calif., facility. According to the annual report of the Union Oil Co. of
California, the parent firm of Molycorp, production of REO contained in bastnäsite
concentrate totaled 15,595 short tons REO in 1978 and 18,205 tons REO in
1979. 
 Titanium Enterprises, jointly owned by American Cyanamid Co. and Union Camp
Corp., ceased dredging operations for titanium minerals, including monazite,
at its Green Cove Springs, Fla., facility during 1979. The company reprocessed
tailings from earlier dredging operations to extract monazite, zircon, and
staurolite throughout 1978 and 1979. Output of monazite in 1979 remained
at the 1978 level. 
 Humphreys Mining Co. recovered monazite frOm heavy-mineral concentrates
until the last quarter of 1979 when its orebody near Hilliard, Fla., was
depleted. 
 Compounds and Metals.—Molycorp announced plans to add six solvent-extraction
units at its Mountain Pass, Calif., facility. The new units, scheduled to
begin production in 1981, would increase the separation capabilities for
samarium, cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, and praseodymium. Molycorp also planned
modifications at its York, Pa. facility that would increase the company's
production capacity for highpurity compounds. 
 Rhône-Poulenc Inc. of France announced plans to build a rare-earth
separation facility in Freeport, Tex. The facility, scheduled 
for startup in 1981, will process monazite. 
 W. R. Grace & Co. consolidated its industrial catalyst and rare-earth
manufacturing and marketing activities in 1978 under one firm known as Davison
Specialty Chemical Co. 
 During 1978 and 1979, Molycorp and W.R. Grace were the principal producers
and processors of rare-earth compounds. Production and shipments of both
mixed and purified rare-earth compounds in 1978 increased over the 1977 level,
with the largest increase reported for production of purified rare-earth
compounds. Production of highpurity rare-earth metals decreased 6% during
1978, and returned to the 1977 level in 1979. 
 Producers of high-purity oxides and compounds during 1978 and 1979 were
Molycorp; W.R. Grace, Chattanooga, Tenn.; Research Chemicals Div. of Nucor
Corp., Phoenix, Ariz.; Reactive Metals and Alloys Corp. (REMACOR), West Pittsburg,
Pa.; and Transelco Div. of Ferro Corp., Penn Yan, N.Y. 
 Mischmetal production increased in 1978 and again in 1979. REMACOR and Ronson
Metals Corp., Newark, N.J., produced mischmetal both years. 
 Production of rare-earth silicide by Foote Mineral Co., Exton, Pa.; Molycorp;
and REMACOR nearly tripled in 1978, compared with the 1977 level, to meet
rising demand in metallurgical applicatons. In addition, American Metallurgical
Products Co. announced plans to produce 3 to 5 million pounds per year of
rare-earth silicide at a new $1 million plant at Springdale, Pa. 
 Molycorp and Research Chemicals were the major processors of yttrium oxide.
Research Chemicals also produced high-purity rare-earth metals during the
year. 
CONSUMPTION AND USES 
 Domestic rare-earth processors consumed an estimated 17,000 tons of REO
contained in raw materials in 1978, reflecting an 11% increase from the 15,300
tons consumed in 1977. Bastnäsite consumption increased 7%, and
monazite
consumption increased 10%. Shipments of rare-earth and yttrium products from
primary processing plants to domestic end-use consumers were about 
11,000 tons contained REO. Consumption and shipment data for 1979 were not
available. 
 The approximate distribution of rare earths and yttrium by end use in 1978,
based on information supplied by primary processors and certain consumers,
was as follows; petroleum cracking catalysts, 41%; metallurgical uses (including
nodular iron 


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