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Rare earths are key components of technologies like cellphones, computers, televisions and batteries, and are used in industrial processes like petroleum refining and glass making. Because wind turbines, solar panels and electric cars require them, too, the expansion of clean energy technologies is driving up demand for rare earth elements.

CASPER — Wyoming’s nascent rare earth elements industry may be inching closer to commercialization.

Rare Element Resources, the mineral exploration and development company behind the Bear Lodge mining project in northeastern Wyoming, announced Saturday that it had secured funding for a demonstration-scale separation and processing plant in Upton, nine miles from its proposed rare earths mine.

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