Rare Earth Earth Day in Dell City and Sierra Blanca Schools
It's easy to see how the Earth itself is the basis for agriculture, and the food we eat: no water, no soil – no vegetables, no beef. But even the things that might seem the least “natural” – our TVs and computers, the smartphones in our hands – exist because of the Earth's resources.
It's a message Dell City School students, and Sierra Blanca School students, heard last week, when USA Rare Earth staffers Laura Lynch and Marie Hansen made Earth Day presentations at the schools. USA Rare Earth is seeking to mine at Round Top Mountain near Sierra Blanca, for minerals known as rare-earth elements.
Lynch and Hansen shared displays on the periodic table, and on the geographic distribution of natural resources in North America. They passed out bookmarks, each highlighting a different element and its uses. And they shared magnets made with rare earths, which are especially powerful. The ability of rare earths to intensify magnetization is what makes compact electronic devices – from smartphones to military technology – work, and it's why the minerals are so valuable.
Lynch said that, in addition to rare earths, the company may mine for lithium, which is used in batteries in electric cars and other devices. She said it was inevitable that some local residents would question, and oppose, the mining project, and she acknowledged that mining can pose risks to public health. But she said that the U.S. has strong environmental safeguards and regulations, and that the company was following those requirements.
Students had good questions and comments – and school leaders were grateful for the involvement of this local business. Thank you, Laura and Marie, for spending time with our students!