AES Semigas


21 March 2024

US Critical Materials announces discovery of gallium at Sheep Creek, Montana

Private rare-earths exploration, development and process technology company US Critical Materials Corp of Salt Lake City, Utah, has confirmed what it calls a “strategically significant” deposit of high-grade gallium on its 6700 acres of claims in Sheep Creek, Montana.

The Sheep Creek deposits are claimed to contain some of the highest grades of rare-earth minerals in the USA, including at least 13 of the currently listed ‘critical’ minerals.

Gallium is consistently listed as the number-one supply risk related to national security, as the USA is 100% dependent on imported gallium, primarily from China. The Chinese government recently embargoed the export of gallium, which is critical for national defense and many other vital applications. Gallium’s applications include semiconductors, 5G technology, smartphones, satellite systems, critical photonics technologies, and especially current and next-generation defense systems.

The 2022 list of critical minerals identifies gallium as having the greatest US supply risk, a risk that has become a reality as a result of the recent export controls imposed by the People’s Republic of China on gallium and other critical and rare-earth minerals.

In December 2023, US Critical Materials announced that it had signed an agreement with Idaho National Laboratories (INL) to develop new rare-earth processing methods including gallium separation. It is believed that technologies developed under this Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) could potentially provide environmentally responsible mining and processing to mitigate environmental concerns.

“Not only is our gallium high grade, but we are also confident that we will be able to create a separation process that will be environmentally respectful,” notes US Critical Materials’ president James Hedrick, and a former rare-earth commodity specialist at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and United States Bureau of Mines (USBM). “US Critical Materials’ prime gallium claims average over 300ppm [parts per million] and go as high as 1370ppm. Gallium can be separated profitably at 50ppm,” he adds. “US Critical Materials looks forward to being the primary gallium producer in the United States.”

US Critical Materials says that, as it progresses in its mission to bolster national security and technological independence through domestic gallium production, it remains dedicated to fostering partnerships, advancing sustainable practices, and contributing to the economic vitality of local communities.

See related items:

US Department of Energy releases 2023 Critical Materials Assessment

North American GaN device makers confirm continuity of gallium sourcing despite China’s export restrictions

Tags: Gallium




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