USGS Updates Mineral Database with Gallium Deposits in the United States
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has updated its USMIN Mineral Deposit Database (USMIN) for the mineral commodity gallium, one of 35 mineral commodities declared critical by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2018. The two deposits in this dataset occur in Alaska and Texas.
Gallium is used to manufacture integrated circuits and optoelectronic devices, which include laser diodes, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), photodetectors and solar cells. Gallium is primarily recovered as a byproduct of processing aluminum or zinc ores.
“I’m excited to add gallium to USMIN, because the critical mineral commodities that are recovered as byproducts for other mineral resources traditionally have less available data,” said Jeff Mauk, USGS lead scientist for USMIN. “Given that these byproduct mineral commodities are incredibly important to manufacturing, USMIN’s updated datasets should be a useful for resource managers prioritizing mineral products like gallium.”
This data release comprises sites that contain more than 16 metric tons of gallium metal, which was the approximate average annual consumption of gallium in the U.S. from 2016 through 2020, according to the USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries.
The largest gallium deposit in the U.S. is the Round Top deposit in Texas, which contains a reported resource of 36,500 metric tons of gallium. There are no current U.S. producers of gallium.
“USGS has been updating USMIN for all of the mineral commodities declared critical to the U.S. economy by the U.S. Department of the Interior,” said Mauk. “For instance, we recently updated the database for tantalum, an important component for electronic capacitors, telecommunications, data storage and implantable medical devices.”
In 2019, the U.S. relied on foreign sources for 100% of the gallium it used. Primary import sources were China, the United Kingdom, Germany, and other countries, listed in descending order of quantity supplied to the U.S.
USMIN is a national-scale geospatial database that is the authoritative source for the most important mines, mineral deposits and mineral districts of the U.S.