A recent estimate by the US Geological Survey claims that approximately 13 million metric tons of rare earth elements (REE) exist within known deposits in the US.
The report describes significant deposits of REE in 14 states, with the largest known REE deposits at Mountain Pass in California, Bokan Mountain in Alaska and the Bear Lodge Mountains in Wyoming.
Additional states with known REE deposits include Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina.
’This is the first detailed assessment of rare earth elements for the entire nation, describing deposits throughout the US,’ said USGS director Dr Marcia McNutt. ’Although many of these deposits have yet to be proven, at recent domestic consumption rates of about 10,000 metric tons annually, the US deposits have the potential to meet our needs for years to come.’
REE is a group of 16 metallic elements with similar properties and structures that are essential in the manufacture of a diverse array of high-technology products. Despite their name, they are relatively common within the Earth’s crust, but because of their geochemical properties, they are not often found in economically exploitable concentrations.
Ninety-six per cent of REE produced globally now comes from China. New REE mines are being developed in Australia and projects exploring the feasibility of economically developing additional REE deposits are underway in the US, Australia and Canada.
The new USGS report is available online at http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2010/5220.