USGS Survey Finds U.S. REEs Not So Rare


"U.S. deposits have the potential to meet our needs for years to come."

The first-ever nationwide estimate of rare earth elements by the U.S. Geological Survey determined 13 million metric tons of REE exist within known deposits in the United States.

USGS Director Marcia McNutt said, "Although many of these deposits have yet to be proven, at recent domestic consumption rates of about 10,000 metric tons annually, the U.S. deposits have the potential to meet our needs for years to come."

The agency estimated that 126,230 metric tons of rare earth oxides were produced globally in 2009. Both the USGS and the European Union have ranked REE highest as mineral raw material of critical concern.

Estimated global reserves are 99 million metric tons with 36% of those reserves in China, 19% in the Commonwealth of Independent States, 13% in the U.S., 5% in Australia, 0.05% in Brazil, and 22% in other countries.

The USGS determined that significant REE deposits can be found in 14 U.S. states, with the largest known deposits located in California, Alaska and Wyoming. Additional states with known REE deposits include Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina.

In their survey, the USGS said hard-rock deposits "yield the most economically exploitable concentrations of REE." The researchers also analyzed REE in placer and phosphorite deposits."

"Long-term prospects for the discovery of new reserves and resources depend on sufficient exploration," the USGS advised. The agency estimated that 150 projects exist globally that are prospecting and exploring for REE.

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