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US discovers huge gold reserve in Wyoming amid heightened tensions with China – The UBJ – United Business Journal

The recent revelation of an immense deposit of more than 2.34 billion tons of rare earth minerals near Wheatland, Wyoming, has sent shock waves through the global market and geopolitical landscape. Rare earth minerals, consisting of a group of seventeen elements with unique magnetic, luminescent and catalytic properties, have become the backbone of modern technology and indispensable in a wide range of industries, from electronics and telecommunications to renewable energy and defense.

This groundbreaking discovery represents a potential game-changer not just for the United States, but for the entire rare earth market. With this vast reservoir of rare earth minerals, the US could emerge as a dominant force, challenging China’s long-standing monopoly on the global rare earth supply chain. China currently controls a significant portion of the world’s rare earth production, making it a strategic superpower in the global economy.

The timing of this discovery could not be more significant, as it coincided with a period of heightened tensions between the US and China. As geopolitical rivalries intensify and concerns about supply chain security grow, securing a domestic source of rare earths becomes increasingly strategic. With this new abundance, the US could potentially reduce its dependence on foreign resources, increasing its economic resilience and geopolitical influence.

The magnitude of this discovery becomes even clearer when combined with previous finds in the region. The identification of significant deposits of rare earths at the Brook Mine in Wyoming, where one million tons of rare earth oxides worth $37 billion were unearthed in August 2023, foreshadowed the area’s potential as a rich source of crucial minerals.

American Rare Earths Inc., the entity responsible for this latest discovery, has described the find near Wheatland as exceeding known Chinese reserves of 44 million tons. Remarkably, this assessment was based on only a quarter of the total site explored, highlighting the vast untapped potential that lies beneath the surface.

The company’s extensive presence in Wyoming, with four mineral leases at the Cowboy State Mine and interests in 367 mining claims in Halleck Creek, positions the company as a major player in the fast-growing U.S. rare earths market. This strategic advantage could not only strengthen the country’s economic prospects but also strengthen national security by reducing vulnerabilities related to foreign dependencies.

The importance of reducing dependence on foreign sources for crucial minerals was underscored by China’s strategic move to impose an embargo on the export of certain minerals, including gallium and germanium, to the US. This maneuver served as a wake-up call, prompting the US to accelerate efforts to close the rare earth supply gap with China.

Don Swartz, CEO of American Rare Earths, highlighted the competitive dynamics at play, with Chinese companies looking to maintain their dominance in global markets. In response, American Rare Earths and its partners are poised to challenge China’s hegemony, aiming to position the US as a formidable competitor in the rare earths sector.

Initial drilling conducted by American Rare Earths in March 2023 provided a glimpse into the region’s vast potential, estimating the presence of 1.2 million tonnes in northern Wyoming. Subsequent exploration revealed a staggering 64% increase in estimated reserves, further underscoring the immense wealth that lies beneath Wyoming’s rugged terrain.

Although the extraction process for rare earth minerals typically involves surface mining, which poses environmental risks, the benefits of securing a domestic source of these crucial minerals cannot be overstated. By tapping into this vast reservoir, the U.S. can ensure a stable supply of rare earths while mitigating the environmental and geopolitical risks associated with dependence on foreign sources.

The rare earth minerals discovered near Wheatland include a range of elements, including oxides of neodymium, praseodymium, samarium, dysprosium and terbium, among others. These minerals are integral to the production of high-tech devices such as smartphones, electric vehicle batteries and advanced weapons, making them indispensable components of modern life and national defense.

In conclusion, the discovery of abundant rare earth minerals in Wyoming marks a major milestone for the United States, offering a glimpse into a future where economic prosperity and national security are intertwined. By harnessing the potential of this vast resource, the US has the opportunity to reshape the global rare earths market, reaffirm its position as a powerhouse in critical minerals and cement its place at the forefront of technological innovation and strategic safeguard competition.

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