NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — North Dakota is rich — not only when it comes to history but now, with rare earth elements. And a recent ND Geological Survey shows many minerals that make up rare earth elements, can be found in Dunn, Stark, and Mercer Counties.

Rare earth minerals are needed for so many things in our daily lives — like our cell phones, vehicles, and batteries.

Right now, the U.S. is dependent on China for most of the rare earth elements we use.

This costs our country up to $4 trillion every year, according to the College of Engineering and Mines. So if we can produce these minerals in North Dakota, that would be great for our state and national economy. And we’d be one of the only places in the U.S. mining these minerals.

“We may just be sitting on a lot of smaller coal deposits that are extremely enriched and rare earth that could play a role in the future in reducing the U.S. import reliance from these foreign countries,” said Levi Moxness, a geologist for the North Dakota Geological Survey.

After sampling 300 coal sites in western and south-central North Dakota, UND researchers are setting out on a mission to find and extract these special minerals. Because they would be extracting from coal and igneous formations, the process of extracting these minerals is more environmentally and financially friendly.