US Critical Materials has announced the discovery of a “strategically significant” high-grade gallium deposit within its 6,700-acre claims in Sheep Creek, Montana.

The discovery of gallium, which is essential for a range of applications including semiconductors and defence systems, is said to be very important as the US currently relies entirely on imports, predominantly from China.

This issue has been exacerbated by the recent embargo on gallium exports by the Chinese Government.

The embargo has intensified concerns as gallium is a critical component in various technologies such as semiconductors, 5G networks, smartphones, satellite systems and critical photonics technologies.

The 2022 list of critical minerals by the US Government emphasised gallium’s supply vulnerability, which has been exacerbated by China’s export restrictions.

In response to this challenge, US Critical Materials took a proactive step in December 2023 by partnering with Idaho National Laboratories.

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The agreement focuses on developing new rare earth processing methods, including gallium separation.

The collaboration focused on leveraging novel technologies to establish a domestic supply of gallium, thereby reducing the national security risks associated with its importation.

The initiative is a significant stride towards securing the US’ critical mineral supply chain and enhancing the country’s self-reliance in strategic resources.

Based in Salt Lake City, US Critical Materials has holdings in Montana and Idaho.

The mineral deposits held by the company are said to be unique due to their high grades of rare earths, low levels of thorium and large numbers of surface carbonatites.