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Critical mineral resources of the United States—An introduction

December 19, 2017

Many changes have taken place in the mineral resource sector since the publication by the U.S. Geological Survey of Professional Paper 820, “United States Mineral Resources,” which is a review of the long-term United States resource position for 65 mineral commodities or commodity groups. For example, since 1973, the United States has continued to become increasingly dependent on imports to meet its demands for an increasing number of mineral commodities. The global demand for mineral commodities is at an alltime high and is expected to continue to increase, and the development of new technologies and products has led to the use of a greater number of mineral commodities in increasing quantities to the point that, today, essentially all naturally occurring elements have several significant industrial uses. Although most mineral commodities are present in sufficient amounts in the earth to provide adequate supplies for many years to come, their availability can be affected by such factors as social constraints, politics, laws, environmental regulations, land-use restrictions, economics, and infrastructure.

This volume presents updated reviews of 23 mineral commodities and commodity groups viewed as critical to a broad range of existing and emerging technologies, renewable energy, and national security. The commodities or commodity groups included are antimony, barite, beryllium, cobalt, fluorine, gallium, germanium, graphite, hafnium, indium, lithium, manganese, niobium, platinum-group elements, rare-earth elements, rhenium, selenium, tantalum, tellurium, tin, titanium, vanadium, and zirconium. All these commodities have been listed as critical and (or) strategic in one or more of the recent studies based on assessed likelihood of supply interruption and the possible cost of such a disruption to the assessor. For some of the minerals, current production is limited to only one or a few countries. For many, the United States currently has no mine production or any significant identified resources and is largely dependent on imports to meet its needs. As a result, the emphasis in this volume is on the global distribution and availability of each mineral commodity. The environmental issues related to production of each mineral commodity, including current mitigation and remediation approaches to deal with these challenges, are also addressed.

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the mineral resource classifications, terms, and definitions used in this volume. A review of the history of the use and meaning of the term “critical” minerals (or materials) is included as an appendix to the chapter.

Publication Year 2017
Title Critical mineral resources of the United States—An introduction
DOI 10.3133/pp1802A
Authors Klaus J. Schulz, John H. DeYoung, Robert R. Seal, Dwight Bradley
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Professional Paper
Series Number 1802
Index ID pp1802A
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center