Brazil’s Vale discovers rare earths in Amazon

Diana Kinch – Wall Street Journal, 10/03/2011

Brazilian miner Vale SA has discovered deposits of rare-earth minerals at its giant Salobo copper-mine project at Carajas in Para state, similar to quality at some Australian deposits, a leading Brazilian minerals researcher said late last week.

Vale, which was invited earlier this year by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to explore the possibility of producing rare earths, is now prospecting the area in the Brazilian Amazon for the metals used in microchips and oil refining, according to Roberto Cerrini Villas-Boas, researcher with Brazil’s Minerals Technology Center, or Cetem, which is linked to the country’s Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry.

Interest has soared globally in developing new rare-earth mining projects since May, when China, the world’s biggest producer, decided to restrict exports to build a strategic stockpile of the minerals to ensure domestic supplies, said Mathias Heider of Brazil’s National Mining Department, or DNPM.

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