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RESTON, Va. — The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology are investing about $364,000, to conduct bedrock geologic mapping within the Sheep Creek-Mineral Hill mineral belt at a scale of 1:24,000 in the Alta and Horse Creek Pass quadrangles. 

Detailed geologic mapping and geochemical sampling will be conducted around clusters of rare earth element prospects in the Montana portion of the mineral belt.

The Sheep Creek-Mineral Hill mineral belt extends in a northwest direction from Idaho into Montana and hosts rare earth element-bearing carbonatite horizons and carbonate-hosted niobium-bearing rutile deposits of unknown age and origin.

The grants for the geologic mapping come from a $74 million investment allocated earlier this year to the USGS Mineral Resources Program’s Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI), provided through annual appropriations and investments from the Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Overall, the Infrastructure Law is providing an appropriated $510.7 million investment to the USGS to advance scientific innovation and map critical minerals.

The new geologic maps will refine our understanding of the geologic framework of mineral areas of interest. In addition to helping identify mineral potential, these maps also support both decisions about the use of land, water, energy and minerals, and understanding the potential impact of geologic hazards on communities.

Earth MRI is a partnership between the USGS and state geological surveys across America to modernize our understanding of the Nation’s fundamental geologic framework and mineral resources through new geologic maps, geophysical and topographic surveys, and geochemical sampling. The 2022 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided additional funding that has accelerated this new mapping in areas with potential for hosting critical mineral resources both still in the ground and in mine wastes.

More information can be found here. To learn more about how the USGS is investing the resources from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, visit our website. To learn more about USGS mineral resource and commodity information, please visit our website and follow us on Twitter

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