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November 23, 2022

Reston, Va. — The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has updated the U.S. Mineral Deposit Database (USMIN) to include 3 sites with historical indium production or undeveloped indium resources. These sites are the Bingham and West Desert deposits in Utah and the Chino site in New Mexico.

“There is not much quantitative data about the occurrence and recovery of indium from U.S. mineral deposits, despite its critical role in our economy and security,” said Jeff Mauk, USGS lead scientist for USMIN. “This release provides an update on the Nation's known indium resources and past production.” 

Indium is one of 50 mineral commodities included in the list of critical minerals published by the USGS. Indium is considered a critical and strategic mineral because of its use in the aerospace, defense, energy and telecommunications sectors. The primary applications of indium are flat-panel displays and specialty alloys. In 2021, the U.S. was 100% net import reliant on indium from China, Canada, the Republic of Korea and France.

Close up of Sphalerite
Sphalerite, zinc sulfide, is and has been the principal zinc ore mineral in the world. This specimen comes from Creede, Colorado.

Indium is most commonly recovered from sphalerite, a zinc-sulfide mineral. In the United States, indium is found in porphyry and skarn deposits.

“The USGS is updating USMIN with data, including historical mining activities, for every critical mineral," said Mauk. "The most recent addition was graphite, an important component for high-temperature lubricants, brushes for electrical motors, friction materials and battery and fuel cells.”  

USMIN is a national-scale geospatial database that is the authoritative source for the locations of the most important current and historical mines, mineral deposits and mineral districts of the United States. USMIN is also an important repository for information on mine waste, which has been receiving increasing attention recently for its potential role as an unconventional source for critical mineral commodities.

Image shows a map of the United States with areas of Indium potential marked with colored bubbles
Map showing areas of known production or potential for Indium.

To learn more about USGS mineral resources research, please visit the USGS Mineral Resources Program webpage or follow us on Twitter.  

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