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Legislature signals support for rare earths

 

February 18, 2021



As support grows for rare earth minerals on the national level, so too has the Wyoming Legislature signaled its desire to see the industry grow in this state. A bill signed into law last week aims to support efforts to expand rare earth mining in Wyoming.

Senate File 43, Wyoming Energy Authority Amendments, makes adjustments to the list of projects that can be supported by the Wyoming Energy Authority (WEA). This allows the WEA to utilize its existing authority to support and issue bonds for projects involving rare earths, as well as critical materials and trona.

The bill was originally referred to the Senate Minerals Committee, which recommended it unanimously. During its passage through the Senate, House Minerals Committee and House, it received just one nay vote; this included support from both Senator Ogden Driskill and Representative Chip Neiman.

The bill gives the WEA authority to “support efforts to maintain and expand the rare earth minerals industry” and to “maintain and expand the production of products and materials using rare earth minerals.” It may issue bonds to finance facilities, infrastructure and other transportation and distribution projects.

Governor Mark Gordon signed the bill into law on February 8 alongside several others, commenting that, “This is a positive next step in our effort to strengthen Wyoming’s economy.”

The bill was passed just a few weeks after the announcement that Rare Element Resources has been awarded half the funding needed to construct its demonstration-scale plant through the U.S. Department of Energy. The company was selected to receive $21,989,530 to take what it described as the next step in developing its rare earth mine in the Bearlodge Mountains.

 
 

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