Moon speaks at Lincoln Day Banquet

The annual Lincoln Day Banquet was held Friday, Jan. 26. Darr Moon, above, served as the guest speaker, giving a presentation on Idaho rare minerals. Photo by Philip A. Janquart
Philip A. Janquart
Natural resources, among other topics, were the subject of discussion during the annual Lincoln Day Banquet held at the Vendome Events Center Jan. 26.
 Keynote speaker Darr Moon provided a glimpse into Idaho’s “enormous” inventory of strategic and rare earth materials, the geological processes leading to their deposit, and what needs to be done to curtail foreign dependency.
 Moon, whose wife is Idaho Republican Party Chairwoman Dorothy Moon, spoke at the behest of the Washington County Republican Central Committee, which has hosted the Lincoln Day Banquet for decades.
 “I think by all rights, we need to be proud of our mining history,” said Moon, who graduated from the University of Idaho, School of Mines with a B.S. in Geological Engineering.
 After graduation, he spent six years with Schlumberger International as a field engineer and station manager for North Sea, Saudi Arabian, and Egyptian oil field operations, according to an online biography found on The John Birch Society website at
 He is a licensed civil engineer and land surveyor, heading up his engineering firm’s primary offices in Rupert and Challis.
 Raised in the mining industry, Moon worked on small family-owned placer and gold mines in central Idaho. He and his family are currently involved in mining, milling, and gold production on various properties.
 Much of Idaho’s geology is the result of plate tectonics where, millions of years ago, the Pacific Plate (the ocean floor) subducted beneath the continental land mass, or the North American Plate, forming magma chambers deep within the earth that rose to the top.
 “The biggest reason Idaho is so blessed with strategic and rare minerals is what’s called the Idaho Batholith,” Moon explained. “[it is] the heat engine that’s driven all the mineralization in Idaho, pretty much all down the middle of Idaho, all the way up to Coeur d’ Alene and beyond.” Plate tectonics has resulted in a plentiful and diverse array of resources such as gold, silver, copper, lead, molybdenum, phosphate, manganese, iron, fluorite, uranium, and thorium. The only cobalt mine in the western hemisphere, Moon said, is located in Idaho. 
 “A lot of you may know that a lot of the cobalt goes into electric vehicles and lithium-ion batteries,” he said. “But it’s much more than that; it’s your cell phones and laptop computers. Even your [cordless] drills have lithium-ion batteries that have cobalt in them.”
 Rare earth elements are used for magnets in electric motors and frictionless rail systems and are critical for national defense.
 “An F-35 requires 920 pounds of rare earth elements for every plane,” Moon said. “A destroyer has 5,200 pounds and a Virginia Class submarine 9,100 pounds.”
 Moon added, “We also have antimony and tungsten [in Idaho], which are a huge necessity, especially in war time. You must have tungsten to make armor and you need antimony as a hardening agent for munitions and bullets and things like that.”
 He noted that China produces 60 percent of the rare earth elements and refine about 90 percent.
 “There is no refining capacity in America at all,” Moon said, stressing the importance of self-reliance.
 “We must bring our young people into these industries so we can compete with the Canadians, the Australians, and the Chinese,” he said, adding that Idaho has plenty of rare earth elements, but has failed to develop those resources.
 “I hope … you let your legislators, some of our political people know that we don’t need to live on our knees,” he said.


Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
PH: (208) 549-1717
FAX: (208) 549-1718

Connect with Us