To my knowledge Molycorp has never actually explicitly said that they would produce separated MREOs/HREOs as part of the ramp up to 40,000t of, but the company has asserted that it will produce such elements in "commercially significant quantities."
Overall, I was impressed with all aspects of the Strange Lake project, and the management team behind it. The project is clearly well on its way to completing the pre-feasibility study, and determining the flow sheets required to produce end products.
Over the weekend I updated the list of projects on the TMR Advanced Rare-Earth Projects Index to reflect not one but two new rare-earth mineral resource estimates, which were announced earlier this month
The hard-disk drive industry is an important end-use market for rare-earth materials, and the components which contain them. Both ends of the overall supply chain would do well to keep a closer eye on each other.
We can certainly debate and question specific projections. What's pretty clear though is that the figure of 278 kt for total rare earths in 2015 and beyond is referring to projected supply, not demand.
On the last day of the Mining Indaba event, I had the opportunity to accompany the management team and directors, analysts and others on a visit out to see the Steenkampskraal rare-earth project first-hand.