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U.S. Department of Defense Studies Alaska’s Rare Earths Potential

As the Canadian daily Chronicle Herald reports, the U.S. Department of Defense is conducting a study of Canadian mining company Ucore’s rare earth-rich Bokan Mountain property in southeast Alaska.

Under the auspices of the Defense Logistics Agency, the study will “focus on the possible development of Bokan Mountain to meet defence department requirements for an ongoing supply of critical heavy rare earth elements.”

According to Ucore’s President and CEO, the U.S. at present does not possess the necessary capabilities “to produce three critical heavy rare earth elements that occur naturally and in abundance in Bokan Mountain.”

The fact that the U.S. Department of Defense is focusing on domestic rare earths exploration and development is encouraging, especially considering DoD’s Rare Earths assessment study from this spring, which had largely dismissed a Rare Earths supply crisis. DoD’s conclusion had baffled industry experts, but appeared to reflect a general naiveté and lack of information, which, according to a recent American Resources study called: “Reviewing Risk: Critical Metals & National Security,” pervades government agencies when it comes to assessing our nation’s critical mineral needs. Perhaps the Department of Defense’s Bokan Mountain efforts indicate a shift at the defense establishment towards a new understanding that Rare Earths and many other metals and minerals are critical to our national security needs.