(Victor Valley)- – The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors today approved expanding a training program at Barstow Community College that will teach up to 30 additional workers for careers as industrial maintenance mechanics, with the instruction tailored for work at the Molycorp mine at Mountain Pass.
“Mining is one of San Bernardino County’s most important industries and Molycorp is in the middle of an expansion worth more than a half billion dollars to extract Rare Earth Elements, which are critical to our high-tech economy and our national defense,” said First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt. “I’m pleased that during this time of high unemployment, local workers will be trained for skilled, high-paying careers in this industry.”
In October 2011, the County Workforce Development Department used a $100,000 Veterans Employment-Related Assistance grant to fund the training at Barstow Community College for 25 military veterans. Today’s action authorizes the use of another $100,000 to train an additional 30 adult or displaced workers. The funding comes from the federal workforce grants.
Due to the specific training requirements of mining operations, a customized training program needed to be designed to train workers in the industrial maintenance mechanic field. The training is designed to meet the requirements of Molycorp, as well as a first-year apprentice entering the field. During the first phase of the Mountain Pass expansion, Molycorp plans to hire 25 new individuals every quarter until they reach 200 employees.
The Molycorp mine, just off Interstate 15 about 15 miles west of the Nevada state line, is the western hemisphere’s only source of Rare Earth Elements, which are used in numerous high-tech and military applications, including powerful magnets that make miniaturization of electronics, such as smart phones, possible. China currently produces more than 90 percent of the world’s Rare Earth Elements.