Texas REE project considered for Fast 41
Round Top considered high-priority infrastructure project Metal Tech News Weekly Edition – January 22, 2020
Last updated 6/27/2020 at 5:09am
Texas Mineral Resources Corp. and USA Rare Earth LLC Jan. 21 announced the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council's (FPISC) decision to add mining as a sector covered under Fast-41.
Short for Title 41 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act, Fast-41 is a 2015 initiative to improve the timeliness, predictability, and transparency of federal environmental review and authorization process for infrastructure projects in the United States.
More information on FPISC, Fast-41 and the decision to include mining as a covered sector can be found in Mines eligible for Fast 41 permitting in the current edition of Metal Tech News.
Texas Mineral Resources and USA Rare Earth's Round Top rare earth and technology metals project in Texas could be among the first mine proposals to be accepted for inclusion in the Fast-41 program.
According to a preliminary economic assessment published in mid-2019, a mine at the Round Top project would produce 2,212 metric tons of rare earths per year, including healthy supplies of all six permanent magnet rare earth oxides. This includes more than 200 metric tons of dysprosium, 23 tons of terbium, 65 tons of gadolinium, 65 tons of samarium, 180 tons of neodymium and 67 tons of praseodymium once the mine reaches full production.
This west Texas deposit is large enough to supply REEs at this rate for more than a century.
In addition to rare earths, Round Top contains healthy quantities aluminum, beryllium, gallium, hafnium, lithium, uranium, and zirconium – all on the list of 35 minerals considered critical to the United States.
They are all also vital ingredients to America's energy infrastructure.
"Round Top will become a significant economic asset to U.S. manufacturing and technology development, and the innovation economy the U.S. needs to dominate the 21st century," said Texas Mineral Resources Chairman Anthony Marchese.
Largely due to the important mix of critical minerals at Round Top, last year Texas Gov. Greg Abbott nominated it as a high-priority infrastructure project under Presidential Executive Order 13766, a directive by Trump to strengthen the U.S. economy by expediting the permitting of infrastructure projects.
The Round Top nomination was accepted by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and forwarded to the FPISC for final consideration and approval for streamlined permitting under Fast-41.
"This designation by the FPISC marks a critical component of bringing the Round Top project into production in a timely manner," Marchese said. "We are encouraged by the efforts of the federal government to prioritize the importance of critical mineral self-sufficiency."
A mine at Round Top would contribute significantly to renewable energy applications. The rare earths and lithium are essential to electric vehicles, solar and wind power and efficient lighting, while aluminum sulfate is used in wastewater treatment.
It is estimated that more than 60 percent of the materials produced at Round Top will be used directly in green or renewable energy technologies.