South Coast Geological Society


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Please join South Coast Geological Society for our monthly meeting on Monday, February 11th, 2019 at 6:00 PM to be held at Dave & Buster’s, Orange CA. We are hosting guest speaker, Christopher Baker Hydrogeologist of MP Materials, who will present their topic: “MP Materials and the Mountain Pass Mine: A Geological and Environmental Perspective.”

For nearly a century, mining activities have occurred at the Mountain Pass Mine, located in Mountain Pass, CA. During this period, occupancy and mining activities have been conducted and transitioned between several operating owners. Each operator has shared a similar goal: extract high-grade Light Rare Earth Elements (LREE) from the host bastnaesite ore body. The bastnaesite found at Mountain Pass is widely accepted to be one of the richest concentrations of LREE’s worldwide; as well as the only operating LREE mining facility in North America. These extracted elements are utilized in the production of rare earth magnets, electrical components, batteries, lasers, medical equipment, lenses, among a variety of other products.
As modern technology has improved LREE extraction methods, environmental standards have also evolved. With improvements to environmental standards, site operators have continually evaluated historical environmental impacts, while working to improve and mitigate any further impacts. MP Materials is the new owner/operator of the facility, and along with producing a high quality LREE product a prime directive is to remediate historical impacts, prevent any future negative impacts, and to remain stewards of the environment. MP Materials has detailed monitoring programs for legacy and current impacts and is conducting both active and passive remedial activities while constantly evaluating additional technologies for remediation.

Chris Baker is an environmental geologist and is currently employed at a rare earth mine located in Mountain Pass, CA. Chris currently manages the groundwater and drinking water programs at the mine, along with various other environmental and mining aspects. Prior to employment at the mine he worked and gained experience in both geotechnical and environmental consulting. Other than working in industry Chris has involved himself heavily in the geologic community and is a past president of both SCGS and the GRA SoCal Branch, currently serves as Vice President for GSN Southern Nevada, sits on multiple non-profit organization boards, and has helped to further community and educational outreach in both California and Nevada. Chris studied geology at CSUF (BS) where his research was focused on the exhumation rates of southern Alaskan mountain ranges surrounding Anchorage.