Critical potential: New USGS tool discovers fresh critical minerals hunting grounds in Alaska – by Shane Lasley (Mining/Petroleum News – April 2017)

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Exploration companies familiar with Alaska already know the Far North state is a great place to look for critical minerals such as rare earth elements, platinum group metals, cobalt and tin. A new report published by the U.S. Geological Survey, however, indicates that Alaska may be richer in these and other minerals vital to the United States than previously realized.

Working alongside the Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, USGS developed a new geospatial tool that integrated and analyzed a massive load of geologic information and used this data to estimate the resource potential for six deposit types that host a large array of critical minerals.

After crunching all the data, this tool turned up new and expanded areas of Alaska with the potential for these minerals that are vital to modern living but that the United States depends upon foreign countries for more than half of its supply.

“Some of the areas that showed high potential were already known, but many of these areas had not previously been recognized,” explained Sue Karl, an Alaska-based USGS research geologist and lead author of the study. “Areas identified by this method that have high resource potential based on limited data indicate both understudied and underexplored areas that are important targets for future data collection, research investigations and exploration.”

The geospatial tool worked particularly well for identifying new areas of Alaska to explore for rare earth elements, or REEs, a group of 16 minerals that possess unique characteristics that make them important ingredients to many high-technology devises used by both civilians and the military.

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