Currently the U.S. is trying to find materials that are considered “rare elements.” These elements are 57 Lanthanum to 71 Lutetium, and they are used in the production of cellphones, televisions, weapons systems, wind turbines, MRI machines and the regenerative brakes in hybrid cars. The materials could be hidden in what was considered piles of waste during the gold rush.
“Those were almost never analyzed for anything other than what they were mining for,” Larry Meinert, director of the mineral resource program for the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Va., told the Associated Press. “If they turn out to be valuable that is a win-win on several fronts – getting us off our dependence on China and having a resource we didn’t know about. Uncle Sam could be sitting on a gold mine.”
The U.S. has been relying off of China to supply these rare metal, but after the country began raising prices the U.S. decided to look for its own resources. Currently there is only one U.S. mine producing rare elements. The mine is expected to produce 20,000 metric tons of rare elements by this summer, reports the Associated Press.