25 August 2014
AGU Science Policy Alert 14-9
In the past several decades, the importance and necessity of rare earth elements (REE) have grown exponentially, and their application in almost every 21 st-century technology has made them economically indispensable.
REE that have an outsized importance on our technological capabilities and quality of life are referred to as “critical minerals”, and while many can be found across the globe, the most abundant, available, and greatest variety are often found in China. While the United States is also a major supplier, domestic extractions of many REE are difficult without serious environmental impacts. This allows China and other countries to control supply regardless, and sometimes in spite of, demand. Additionally, many critical minerals have no alternative that can be used in the case of severely constrained supply or resource depletion.
The Critical and Strategic Minerals Supply Chain Subcommittee under the National Science and Technology Council, in partnership with the Science and Technology Policy Office have put out a request for information from academia, industry, research labs, and others to help identify raw materials that are of interest to the public. The goal of the subcommittee is to develop a methodology for identifying critical materials and monitoring changes in criticality on an ongoing basis, providing “early warning” to policymakers and other stakeholders. The request for information comes under six categories and all are invited to send in comments and suggestions.
The Federal Register is currently accepting comments on critical minerals, and are looking for feedback under the following areas: Demand; Exploration, mining, and smelting/refining; Supply and Supply chain; Market Dynamics; Mitigation; and Other.
While your comments will remain anonymous, they will be made publicly available. Please refrain from using any information that is of a sensitive or confidential nature.