A Texas mining company specializing in rare-earth elements was awarded a Defense Department research contract to produce highly purified yttrium oxide, ytterbium oxide, and a third, undisclosed rare-earth oxide. Texas Rare Earth Resources Corp. (TRER) and partner K-Technologies have signed on to begin bench-scale work to demonstrate separation and refinement of yttrium oxide and the undisclosed rare-earth oxide to a minimum 99.999% purity level and ytterbium oxide to a minimum of 99.99% purity using continuous ion exchange and continuous ion chromatography. Rare-earth elements are used in military-related applications to create advanced magnets, lasers, and batteries. Concern has grown, particularly in Congress, about the domestic supply of rare-earth elements. In August, after much anticipation, rare-earth element producer Molycorp suspended operations at its Mountain Pass mine in California. Most of the world’s rare-earth elements continue to be produced in China.