Utah copper mining company to produce rare mineral

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah copper mining company will begin manufacturing a rare mineral used in solar panels that used to be discarded along with the other mine tailings.

Rio Tinto officials and Utah Gov. Spencer Cox unveiled the plan Wednesday at the Kennecott refinery west of Salt Lake City where the tellurium will be produced, FOX-13 news reported.

The company says it is one of two in the U.S. to produce the tellurium, which is listed as a “critical mineral” by the U.S. government. Most of the tellurium produced comes from China and other countries. Rio Tinto is working with the U.S. Department of Energy on ideas to produce more tellurium.

The company said it hopes to produce 20 tons of the tellurium each year.

“If we can produce it here, we are all going to be better off,” said Cox, a Republican. “We desperately need more of it.”

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