MAKE friend Kyle Wiens (iFixit) takes a trip to the only American rare earth metals mine, in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

That big hole in the ground? It’s a pit mine at the Molycorp Mountain Pass rare earth facility in California’s Mojave Desert. Metals mined from pits like that were used to make the cell phone in your pocket and the computer screen you’re staring at right now. I visited Molycorp two weeks ago, as part of our investigation into the sources and consequences of consumer electronics manufacturing.

Kyle tells about the history of the plant, why production ceased in 2002, and how it kicked back up in 2009. Click through to read more. [Via A Visit to the Only American Mine for Rare Earth Metals – Fixers – Technology – The Atlantic.]

Jake Spurlock

Jake Spurlock

Web Developer at MAKE. I’m an Engineer. That means I solve problems.

Also, a geek, designer, HTML/CSS/PHP lover. Taker of photos, and sometimes skiing and biking…

  • zof

    Can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven over that pass with no clue there was a giant mine on the other side of the hills too bad they don’t do tours would be fun to stop on the way to vegas.

  • Ez-Man

    This is the type of reporting that really needs to be done by technology journalists.
    There’s a lot of dirty stuff that goes on during production and disposal, and people need to wake up to it.

  • Christian Restifo

    If you go a few hours north, you’ll find Silver Peak, NV, the only operating mine in the US for lithium.