In the wake of reports claiming a so-called "rare earth element mine" has been proposed in Idaho's Panhandle, Australia-based MMG Limited insists that it doesn't want rare earth elements—it wants zinc, instead.
The U.S. Forest Service confirmed last week that it gave the greenlight to MMG Limited's plan to conduct "exploratory drilling at eight locations" at Hall Mountain, where radioactive thorium and other rare earth elements are prevalent. The mountain is also home to toxic elements such as cadmium.
The drilling area is about two miles south of the U.S.-Canada border and three miles east of State Highway 1.
The Bonner County Daily Bee reports that MMG says its exploration program "is preliminary in nature" and a company spokeswoman said, "MMG is not searching for rare earth elements or thorium."
But it's not as if MMG isn't keeping its options open. Sally Cox, MMG's general manager of stakeholder relations, said decisions about further exploration will be made after the current exploration program, which could begin as soon as July.
The Daily Bee reports that there is an estimated 104,3000 metric tons of thorium in Hall Mountain.