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Assessment of critical minerals: Updated application of an early-warning screening methodology

September 21, 2017

Increasing reliance on non-renewable mineral resources reinforces the need for identifying potential supply constraints before they occur. The US National Science and Technology Council recently released a report that outlines a methodology for screening potentially critical minerals based on three indicators: supply risk (R), production growth (G), and market dynamics (M). This early-warning screening was initially applied to 78 minerals across the years 1996 to 2013 and identified a subset of minerals as “potentially critical” based on the geometric average of these indicators—designated as criticality potential (C). In this study, the screening methodology has been updated to include data for 2014, as well as to incorporate revisions and modifications to the data, where applicable. Overall, C declined in 2014 for the majority of minerals examined largely due to decreases in production concentration and price volatility. However, the results vary considerably across minerals, with some minerals, such as gallium, recording increases for all three indicators. In addition to assessing magnitudinal changes, this analysis also examines the significance of the change relative to historical variation for each mineral. For example, although mined nickel’s R declined modestly in 2014 in comparison to that of other minerals, it was by far the largest annual change recorded for mined nickel across all years examined and is attributable to Indonesia’s ban on the export of unprocessed minerals. Based on the 2014 results, 20 minerals with the highest C values have been identified for further study including the rare earths, gallium, germanium, rhodium, tantalum, and tungsten.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2017
Title Assessment of critical minerals: Updated application of an early-warning screening methodology
DOI 10.1007/s13563-017-0119-6
Authors Erin A. McCullough, Nedal Nassar
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Mineral Economics
Index ID 70191019
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Minerals Information Center

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