Mining has historically been a top industry in Idaho. With one of the best mineral endowments in the country for rare earth elements, it is no wonder that publicly traded and community-minded Idaho Strategic Resources has called Idaho home for decades.
The company is led by John Swallow, who joined the company eight years ago and works alongside his family and sons, Travis Swallow and Ryan Swallow. With family at the forefront, the company has over 50 employees, many of which include father and son teams like John, Travis and Ryan.
Headquartered in North Idaho, Idaho Strategic Resources is one of the few companies in Idaho that possesses rare earth element properties and gold production. The company’s unique qualities made it stand out as a perfect candidate for the IGEM grant program.
The company was asked to participate in the IGEM grant program by the University of Idaho (UI) and partner with them to develop new drilling and extraction techniques for rare earth elements.
The project will explore different techniques such as bioleaching, a process using leach tanks full of environmentally friendly biologic materials and agro-mining which is a process of genetically modifying plants to hyper-accumulate materials.
In addition to partnering with UI, the company also worked with Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Geological Survey and the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, providing a cross-governmental collaboration unique from other projects.
Research is already underway and in addition to receiving an initial grant of $348,241, UI also received a supplemental award of $92,177.
“I think (the project) brought together a lot of people in the state of Idaho that otherwise would not be talking and the price tag and the value of that is many, many multiples of whatever the grant is,” John Swallow said.