Recently the U.S. Forest Service granted approval for U.S. Rare Earths, Inc. to re-open the Last Chance northern tunnel (adit) for metallurgical sampling. This tunnel is one of the longest identified mineralized veins in the Lemhi Pass area.
"Our team has been working very hard to achieve the key milestone of being the first American rare earth company with an underground mine to have removed rare earth material in recent history," said Kevin Cassidy, CEO of U.S. Rare Earths.
Based on historical reports and field observation, the stockpile of material is believed to have rare earth mineralization occurrences.
The Last Chance vein was first explored by Elkhorn Mining Co, in the 1950's, under support by the Defense Minerals Exploration Administration. After passing through several other owners, the property was held by the Union Pacific Railroad Co. during the 1970's. During this period UPRR developed two adits and a shaft, and completed several drillholes to explore the Last Chance Vein. The adits developed by UPRR consist of a northern adit 755 feet long and a southern adit 452 feet long. While the adits are not connected, both adits intersect the vein. Additional underground work by UPRR included development of an 80-foot vertical shaft located between the adits which also intersected the vein with a short 22-foot tunnel.
During the 1980's, renewed interest by Idaho Enegy Resources Company in the rare earth content held in the Last Chance vein deposit led to additional rehabilitation and underground work on the northern adit. IERCO expanded the northern adit by driving an additional 100 feet to the northwest. The northern adit was last worked by IERCO in 1989 and has since been closed-in for safety purposes.
“We believe results will confirm that material from the Last Chance project is rich in Europium, a rare earth essential in providing the colors used in applications such as smart phones and CFL light bulbs," Cassidy said. "Europium pricing has been one of the very few rare earth elements which have maintained a consistently high price.
The company has begun material handling to remove the company's "stockpile" of rare earth material on the project and will take metallurgical sampling immediately of the rare earth material from the stockpile, with Hazen Research, Inc.Golden, Colo. and ALS Geochemistry in Tucson, Ariz.
Rare earth elements are critical to many existing and emerging 21st century applications including clean-energy technologies such as wind turbines, hybrid cars and electric vehicles; high-technology applications including cell phones and digital music players; hard disk drives used in computers; microphones; fiber optics; lasers; and in addition, critical defense applications such as global positioning systems, radar and sonar; and advanced water treatment applications, including those for industrial, military, homeland security, domestic and foreign aid use.
“We believe we are well underway to executing our strategy of providing a complete domestic supply chain solution of rare earths which are made in America," Cassidy said.