Prospecting in state, Southwest picks up, seeking deposits of elements critical to high-tech products.
A growing global concern about supplies of “rare earth” elements for computers, hybrid cars and other staples of everyday life has sparked exploration in Arizona and across the Southwest.
A Tucson mining company is looking for the elements on state and federal lands near Tombstone.
An Australian firm found some in La Paz County near California, but ultimately decided the deposit wasn’t rich enough to be mined at today’s prices.
In New Mexico, three drilling projects are under way or done.
The periodic table includes 17 rare earth elements. They’re contained in minerals and are in great demand as critical components of high-tech products and electronics.
State geologists for Arizona and New Mexico and a top University of Arizona mineral researcher say potential exists for finding economically viable deposits here – possibly with the state’s extensive copper deposits. One reason for their optimism: Arizona has some rock formations similar to those where rare earth elements have been found in New Mexico.