BISMARCK, N.D. — Geologists are searching for rare earth elements in the eastern part of North Dakota in an attempt to end foreign dependence on the valuable materials used in several forms of modern technology.
Ninety percent of the world’s supply of batteries, hard drives, magnets and other goods are controlled by China, The Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/2usBQTC ) reported.
Since 2015, researchers have taken more than 470 samples of elements, including europium, holmium and scandium, from 60 sites across the Little Missouri Badlands.
During the 2015-17 biennium, the study received funding from the Legislature. The study was to include 100 samples, but after finding success it was expanded and given $110,000 in funding.
The North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources geologists have found all of the elements in every sample, but they hope to find concentration of heavy elements.
With the first round of sampling complete, researchers will focus their attention to about a dozen sites where high concentrations were found, to see how much the concentrations change along the seams.
Researchers also hope to develop low-cost analysis techniques that would fit into typical mining practices. The estimated cost of project would be $500,000. Researchers hope to receive $224,000 of the cost from the North Dakota Industrial Commission through the state’s Lignite Research Fund.
Geologist Ed Murphy said the estimated cost of the second phase of the project will be $50,000.
Researchers are expected to publish their results in the fall.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com