Author: Larry Borowsky

Reengineering the Nation’s Only Major Source of Rare Earth Metals

Brock O’ Kelley ’74 has seen the good times and weathered the bad ones at Molycorp’s Mountain Pass Mine, located 50 miles south of Las Vegas. He was there 22 years ago, when the mine ranked as the world’s largest single producer of rare earth metals. And he endured the dark period of the late 1990s and early 2000s, when a changing market and regulatory challenges slowed production to a trickle. Today, Mountain Pass is poised to enter a new era of prosperity, and O’Kelley did as much as anyone to bring it about. As director of technology for Molycorp, O’Kelley introduced a suite of innovations that increased efficiencies, lowered costs and cleared away longstanding regulatory obstacles. The result is a new lease on life for Mountain Pass Mine and a new job title for O’Kelley. Molycorp promoted him to Technology Fellow, marking the creation of a new executive-level position with a formal dinner in his honor. In his new role, O’Kelley will continue perfecting the company’s refining and processing technology. “He’s one of the top people in the world when it comes to knowing how to process these materials,” says Molycorp CEO Mark Smith. “When you combine all the things Brock and his team have worked on, they allow us to process our materials for about 25 percent of the cost of the rest of the world.” The...

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Sourcing Rare Earths and Critical Minerals

To understand how ubiquitous rare earth metals have become, look no further than the iPhone. It is powered by a permanent magnet made with the rare earth metal neodymium; the screen and display module are manufactured with europium, yttrium and terbium; and the lens in the camera has a coating of lanthanum. The device,

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Constructing a Landmark

Dave Zanetell ’87 has spent the last six years leading the design and construction of a historic bridge in the shadow of Hoover Dam. This account details some of the many challenges he faced to complete such a monumental project.

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Mike Gathers Coaching

Current Issue: Summer 2018

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