February 2020
Volume 72    Issue 2

Critical minerals in New Mexico; work needed to realize resources

Mining Engineering , 2020, Vol. 72, No. 2, pp. 31-31
McLemore, Virginia


Critical minerals are mineral resources that are essential to our economy and whose supply may be disrupted; many critical minerals are 100 percent imported into the United States. Both uranium and potash are important commodities in New Mexico and are considered critical minerals. Deposits of rare earth elements (REEs) are also found in New Mexico. REE-Th-U veins are found in the Gallinas, Capitan and Cornudas Mountains and Laughlin Peak-Chico Hills; all are associated with Tertiary alkaline igneous rocks. Disseminated Y-Zr deposits in Proterozoic nepheline syenite are known at Pajarito Mountain on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation near Ruidoso. Other critical minerals are associated with various mineral deposits in New Mexico. For example, vanadium and molybdenum, byproducts of uranium mining, as well as selenium and REEs, are associated with sandstone uranium deposits in the Grants uranium district. Rhenium is found in porphyry copper and porphyry molybdenum deposits in New Mexico. Coal deposits are abundant in the state and could be the source of several critical minerals (REEs, Se, V, Ge), but more work is needed to fully understand the distribution of critical minerals in New Mexico coal deposits.

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