A Chinese-led coalition threatens to further tighten control of the rare earths trade with the purchase of the only operational rare earth metals mine in America. The Mountain Pass Mine in the California desert south of Las Vegas was a powerhouse producer of REEs from 1965 to 1985, at which point China took over global production and never looked back. Mountain Pass was shuttered from 2002 to 2012 because it couldn’t compete with the low prices coming out of China. After a brief revival from 2012 to 2015, Mountain Pass closed for good in 2016 and its owner, Molycorp, filed for bankruptcy. This past June, an investor group with alleged ties to the Chinese government bought the mine for $20.5 million, beating out American bidders including entrepreneur Tom Clarke of ERP Strategic Minerals.