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Mountain Pass, California, November 15, 2010 - A view of an area behind the open pit mine at Mountain Pass holds four evaporation ponds and an area of about 70 acres (area behind the ponds) which is planned to hold the tailings from the mine excavation. Tailings are the materials left over about the ore has been processed and separated from the unusable material, known as gangue. Scott Honan, an Environmental Manager for Molycorp, the owner of the mine, explained that the areas local plants would be relocated and that the tailings would be dry stacked, by dewatering the material and stacking them within the area. This is considered a more environmentally sound process because it leaves the material packed densely which is more stable, and allows for faster reintegration of the plant life once the mining is complete. Rare earth elements - there are 17 in all - are crucial for many current technologies, including mobile phones, wind turbines, hybrid cars, laptops and military hardware, such as Army tank navigation systems and Navy radars. Uranium prospectors discovered the mine at Mountain Pass in 1949 and it became the dominant producer of rare earth elements until the 1990s when pressure from other producers began to drive prices down. That along with a number of leaks of radioactive water during transmission into a evaporation lake 13 miles away and state regulators delaying operating permits forced the mines closure in 2002. Though mining ceased, some processing of already mined elements continued. Molycorp was purchased by Unocal in the 1970s, which in turn was purchased from Chevron. In 2008 it's long-time chief executive, Mark A Smith, purchased in from Chevron with the help of several private equity firms. The company raised $500 million in an effort to reopen the mine, which will include expanding and modernizing the current facilities as well as incorporating newer technologies to make mining the radioactive material more environmentally safe and adding a na