Idaho's Rare Earth Minerals On The Radar

May 2, 2012

China’s stranglehold on the world’s rare earth mineral supply has re-ignited interest in Idaho. The state’s rare earth minerals run through environmentally sensitive lands. Bonnie Stewart has the story.

U.S. Rare Earths of Arkansas has applied for permits to drill for minerals in Northern and Central Idaho.

The company’s federally leased lands are laced with rare earth minerals. They’re used in cell phones, wind turbines and high-tech military items like night-vision goggles.

Helicopter flights in Idaho involving magnetic -- or aeromagnetic -- technology are helping the company decide where to mine.

Daniel McGroarty is the company’s president.

McGroarty: “You can guide your drilling by doing these sorts of aeromagnetic studies which tell you which areas have higher concentrations of the metals that you’re looking for.”

Next, federal officials will begin an on-the-ground environmental evaluation of the properties. One lease is in Lemhi Pass, which is home to critical habitat for Chinook salmon.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network