Johnson County's Commissioners have voted to draft a letter of support for the project proposed by the Rare Earth Elements company in Weston and Crook Counties.
Mike Finn and Linda Tokarczyk, with Rare Earth Elements, gave a presentation to the commissioners at their last meeting, showing them the proposed Bear Lodge mining facility in Crook County, northwest of Sundance, and the processing plant to be located in Weston County near Upton.
They described the number and types of rare earth elements that can be mined there and why those are important to the US economy. Most of the elements are required in high-tech gadgets from cellular phones to powerful magnets to lasers and compact discs and other components needed in the defense industry.
Some minerals are produced at a mine in California, but most of these minerals are purchased from China, which has the only other large deposit of the number and types of minerals found at the Bear Lodge site in Wyoming.
Eleven different types of rare earths will be mined at the site, with the possibility of other companies focusing on other elements or minerals cropping up near the site as well.
Finn and Tokarczyk gave more information on the two sites the company wants to build and develop.
The mine facility in Crook County will be on Forest Service lands, except for a section that is owned by the company.
If everything goes as planned, the company is looking at the next couple of years to finish the permitting process, with construction beginning in 2016 and full production by 2017.
The estimated cost of construction of the two facilities combined is $350 million.