This mineral, known as rare earth, sounds like something an alchemist uses to turn lead into gold. But it is these minerals that make a difference in the modern world. Rare earths are used in mobile phones, hybrid cars, wind turbines and computers. Most of the minerals are mined in China, but China has been cutting exports. This has led to soaring prices for rare earths, which again makes it profitable to reopen a long-term market Closed the mine in California. Near the edge of a rare earth mine pit in the California desert, you\'ll see something rare. But Scott Honin, the mine\'s environmental manager, points out that the rock, like the vast desert around it, is a brown rock wall. \"In the next few weeks, we will start digging the entire west wall of our open-air coal mine. I\'m like many of my colleagues. \"The workers here have been waiting for a long time,\" Honin said . \". In the past ten years, nothing has been mined there. Property known as Yamaguchi is owned by the oil company. Recent Chevron However, after 50 years of operation, it is no longer cost-effective to compete with the Chinese. There are also licensing issues and environmental issues. \"It may be a good thing that we are shut down,\" said Mark Smith, CEO of Molycorp Minerals, which acquired the mine in 2008. Smith said it made them all over again. Evaluate the first 50 years of its operations. \"Look at our strengths, weaknesses, try to re- \"Develop a strategy for how we can run this business and get it back on track,\" he said . \". One cleaner said the first thing they decided to do was do a cleaner operation. Mining rare earths is the easiest part. 17 elements of rare earth are naturally mixed together. The usual way to separate these elements requires a chemical: sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, nitric acid, sodium hydroxide, baking soda, and ammonia, Smith said. Smith said the chemicals used to be transported by truck to the Yamaguchi of up to 20 tankers every day. The by-product of the separation process is 850 gallons of salt water per minute, which enters the evaporation pool through the pipeline. Now, Molycorp has invented a way to re-process salt water into two major chemicals used to separate rare earths. This will make production cleaner and cheaper. Operators at the plant are separating elements nd and ase from la and ce. Honin said they are building a new factory and are getting benefits from the new process. Honin said: \"So, when we build large factories, we will have a group of experienced operators and we will have a good understanding of the technology so that it can go very smoothly Molycorp plans to open a new factory in 2012. The company expects to produce 40,000 tons a year. This will not happen soon to accommodate the Republican representative. Mike Kaufman of ColoradoMeeting U. S. Man Kaufman is concerned about national security. Many military equipment uses rare earths, he said. Everything from night vision to fighter planes to precision. Guns, \"he said. As a result, Kaufman is drafting a legislation that he says will support the mining, processing and storage of rare earths in the United StatesS. \"If we are so desperately lacking these metals that we are not able to produce the weapons systems needed for national security that depend on them,\" Kaufman said. Ed Richardson, vice president of Thomas Skinner A company that makes magnets for military use also urged the government to stop relying on rare earths in China. He says the U. S. Compete for rare earth resources worldwide. \"In addition to the products that China said it would export, the gap in world demand is about 100,000 tons,\" Richardson said . \". With the development of China\'s rare earth industry, rare earth exports will continue to shrink, he said. \"They are going to use all the rare earths they are mining, and then use some,\" Richardson said . \". So, many people in the industry think,China] They will eventually import rare earths and will not export them at all. \"It means that one day China may not be a competitor to Molycorp but one of its customers.