Australian diversified major Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO; LSE: RIO; ASX: RIO) has teamed up with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to hunt for critical minerals beneath the Continental Divide near Montana’s Boulder Batholith.
For the first time, the USGS has partnered with a resource company to fly airborne geophysical surveys in areas of interest in 2022 as part of its Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI) initiative, allowing it to double the area under survey.
Recent studies by the USGS Earth MRI have identified the Boulder Batholith region as having conditions that look favourable for hosting several critical mineral resources, such as rare earth elements, tellurium, tin, tungsten, and copper, molybdenum and gold. The region is well-known for its mineral potential.
Previous mining efforts have yielded significant quantities of copper, gold, lead, silver and zinc, as well as other metals.
The new airborne magnetic and radiometric surveys are expected to provide geoscientists with new insights to help interpret regional geologic structures and rock formations concealed beneath the rugged landscape. It will allow for a more profound and innovative understanding of the complex regional geology of southwestern Montana.
The goal of the Earth MRI program is to improve our knowledge of the geologic framework in the US and to identify areas that may have the potential to contain undiscovered critical mineral resources.
Information acquired through this initiative could also advance our understanding of other economically valuable mineral resources (such as copper, zinc, gold, and industrial minerals), energy and groundwater resources, and geologic hazards.
Data collected through this partnership will be made publicly available through the Earth MRI website.
The Department of the Interior last issued a list of 35 minerals considered critical to the economic and national security of the US. It was created under the direction of former president Donald Trump to break America’s dependence on foreign minerals.
The list includes aluminum – used in almost all sectors of the economy; the platinum group metals – used for catalytic agents; rare-earth elements – used in batteries and electronics; tin – used as protective coatings and alloys for steel; and titanium – mainly used as a white pigment or as a metal alloy.