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Hollie Brown
PIO, Utah Geological Survey  801-243-9466

Utah Geological Survey Leading New Study of Critical Mineral Resource in Utah’s West Desert

SALT LAKE CITY (Nov 9, 2022) —The Utah Geological Survey (UGS) has been awarded a federal grant for critical minerals research on the unique West Desert deposit in western Juab County. West Desert is the only established resource of indium in the United States. Indium, in the form of indium tin oxide (ITO), is an essential material used to create touchscreens on a range of consumer devices, such as smartphones and display panels, and for other industrial applications, such as windshields and solar panels.

No indium was produced in the United States in 2021. The West Desert deposit is the only domestically established resource of indium, currently estimated to contain enough to supply all demand in the United States for nearly 10 years. Resources of zinc, an essential component for many metal alloys and considered a critical mineral, and copper, one of the most essential commodities for electric vehicles and efficient energy grids, are also found at West Desert.

“We are excited for the opportunity to study the unique geology of this deposit and learn more about why so many important critical mineral resources are concentrated here,” said Dr. Stephanie Mills, senior geologist with the UGS and principal investigator of this study.

UGS funding comes from the U.S. Geological Survey Earth Mapping Resource Initiative (Earth MRI) program, which is dedicated to improving geological knowledge about domestic critical mineral resources. The project, which will run over three years, is being conducted in collaboration with American West Metals Ltd., which is currently developing the West Desert deposit. American West is a mining company focused on developing low-footprint resources to support the global energy transition. The collaboration will allow UGS unprecedented access to geological materials and data related to West Desert and support research into how this important deposit formed.