Thursday, October 14, 2010

Rising interest in rare earth elements in Arizona

Even Scientific American is getting into the hot topic of rare earth elements used in electronics and batteries, especially those used in 'green' technologies. A feature article posted online today notes that 97% of the world's production comes from China. And China recently instituted a non-embargo embargo of rare earth minerals to technology dependent Japan, further ratcheting world concerns about a global monopoly.

A couple weeks ago we saw a brief notice in the mining industry news that "Australian-American Mining shares spike on rare earths potential in Arizona." The company has staked claims on a pegmatite in the White Picacho area near Wickenburg, known since the 1950s to contain a variety of minerals including some rare earth elements. We described these in our 1952 Bulletin 162, "Pegmatite Deposits of the White Picacho District, Maricopa and Yavapai Counties, Arizona." So far, no one has figured out how to even calculate the reserves in this deposit, let alone how to recover them other than cobbing them out by hand. [right, Plate V, Bull. 162. Typical small pegmatite, wall of Mitchell Canyon, north of Jumbo mine]

It'll be interesting to see if investors are buying into any rare earth opportunity or if they think industry has finally figured out how to make Arizona a producer.

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