This story comes through a content-sharing partnership with Wyoming Public Media.
The mining company American Rare Earths is conducting more exploratory drilling this month at its Halleck Creek site in Southeast Wyoming. The Australian-based company hopes to discover an increase in the breadth and depth of its already promising resource.
Rare earth elements – like neodymium and praseodymium – are highly desirable materials used in a variety of products from cell phone batteries to flat-screen TVs. Currently, there is only one rare earth mining and processing facility in the U.S., and the Biden Administration has said these elements are key for economic and national security.
“There is potential to significantly increase the size, quality, and grade of this deposit. This new program is focussed on adding value by targeting high grade zones,” said American Rare Earths CEO Donald Swartz in a statement. “We are looking forward to executing this drill program and advancing Halleck Creek as the logical solution for the U.S. Government to reduce dependency on Chinese rare earths.”
The company plans to drill 23 additional holes at Halleck Creek, with one extending to a depth of 1,000 feet. The site is located in Albany and Platte counties and already has the potential to be among the largest rare earth mines in the world, according to previous explorations. To further expand the company’s presence in the western U.S., American Rare Earths is also opening an American headquarters near Denver.
Rare earth minerals, along with other “green” elements like cobalt and lithium, have gained attention in recent years due to their importance in the transition away from fossil fuels. As operations expand in the West, more environmental impacts from open-pit mining and conflicts with tribal communities could pop up.