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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2008. Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the U.S. Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12034.
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MINERALS, CRITICAL MINERALS, AND THE U.S. ECONOMY

Committee on Critical Mineral Impacts on the U.S. Economy

Committee on Earth Resources

Board on Earth Sciences and Resources

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2008. Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the U.S. Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12034.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by the Department of the Interior / U.S. Geological Survey, under Award No. 06HQGR0204, and by the National Mining Association. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations contained in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the U.S. Government.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-11286-4

International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-11286-9

Library of Congress Control Number: 2007943420

Additional copies of this report are available from the

National Academies Press,

500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet http://www.nap.edu

Cover: Conceptual illustration of the multifaceted nature of identifying and examining critical minerals. Nonfuel minerals are essential components of most of the products that are used every day including cellular telephones, computers, and electronics. Mineral availability to manufacture these products has to be evaluated in the context of a global mineral market and increasingly complex supply chains. Accurate and timely data on minerals are keys to inform public policy and avoid disruptive fluctuation in mineral supply. Design by Van Nguyen.

Copyright 2008 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2008. Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the U.S. Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12034.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine


The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.


The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.


The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.


The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.


www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2008. Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the U.S. Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12034.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2008. Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the U.S. Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12034.
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COMMITTEE ON CRITICAL MINERAL IMPACTS ON THE U.S. ECONOMY

RODERICK G. EGGERT, Chair,

Colorado School of Mines, Golden

ANN S. CARPENTER,

U.S. Gold Corporation, Reno, Nevada

STEPHEN W. FREIMAN,

Freiman Consulting, Inc., Potomac, Maryland

THOMAS E. GRAEDEL,

Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

DREW A. MEYER,

Vulcan Materials Company (retired), Birmingham, Alabama

TERENCE P. MCNULTY,

T.P. McNulty and Associates, Inc., Tucson, Arizona

BRIJ M. MOUDGIL,

University of Florida, Gainesville

MARY M. POULTON,

University of Arizona, Tucson

LEONARD J. SURGES,

Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa, Ontario

National Research Council Staff

ELIZABETH A. EIDE, Study Director

NICHOLAS D. ROGERS, Research Associate

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2008. Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the U.S. Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12034.
×

COMMITTEE ON EARTH RESOURCES

MURRAY W. HITZMAN, Chair,

Colorado School of Mines, Golden

FRANCIS P. BURKE,

CONSOL Energy, Inc. (retired), South Park, Pennsylvania

WILLIAM S. CONDIT,

Bureau of Land Management (retired), Santa Fe, New Mexico

MICHAEL DOGGETT, Consultant,

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

THOMAS V. FALKIE,

Berwind Natural Resources Corporation (retired), Newtown Square, Pennsylvania

PATRICIA M. HALL,

BP America Inc., Houston, Texas

DAVID D. LAURISKI,

Safety Solutions International, LLC, Parker, Colorado

ANN S. MAEST,

Stratus Consulting, Boulder, Colorado

LELAND L. MINK,

U.S. Department of Energy Geothermal Program (retired), Worley, Idaho

REGINAL SPILLER,

Frontera Resources Corporation, Houston, Texas

SAMUEL J. TRAINA,

University of California, Merced

HAROLD J. VINEGAR,

Shell Exploration and Production Company, Houston, Texas

National Research Council Staff

ELIZABETH A. EIDE, Senior Program Officer

NICHOLAS D. ROGERS, Research Associate

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2008. Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the U.S. Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12034.
×

BOARD ON EARTH SCIENCES AND RESOURCES

GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, Chair,

University of Virginia, Charlottesville

GREGORY B. BAECHER,

University of Maryland, College Park

STEVEN R. BOHLEN,

Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Washington, D.C.

KEITH C. CLARKE,

University of California, Santa Barbara

DAVID J. COWEN,

University of South Carolina, Columbia

WILLIAM E. DIETRICH,

University of California, Berkeley

ROGER M. DOWNS,

The Pennsylvania State University, University Park

JEFF DOZIER,

University of California, Santa Barbara

KATHERINE H. FREEMAN,

The Pennsylvania State University, University Park

RHEA L. GRAHAM,

Pueblo of Sandia, Bernalillo, New Mexico

RUSSELL J. HEMLEY,

Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, D.C.

MURRAY W. HITZMAN,

Colorado School of Mines, Golden

V. RAMA MURTHY,

University of Minnesota (retired), Minneapolis

CLAYTON R. NICHOLS,

Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (retired), Sandpoint

RAYMOND A. PRICE,

Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

BARBARA A. ROMANOWICZ,

University of California, Berkeley

JOAQUIN RUIZ,

University of Arizona, Tucson

MARK SCHAEFER,

Foundation for Our Future, Reston, Virginia

WILLIAM W. SHILTS,

Illinois State Geological Survey, Champaign

RUSSELL STANDS-OVER-BULL,

Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Billings, Montana

TERRY C. WALLACE, JR.,

Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico

THOMAS J. WILBANKS,

Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2008. Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the U.S. Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12034.
×

National Research Council Staff

ANTHONY R. DE SOUZA, Director

ELIZABETH A. EIDE, Senior Program Officer

DAVID A. FEARY, Senior Program Officer

ANNE M. LINN, Senior Program Officer

ANN G. FRAZIER, Program Officer

SAMMANTHA MAGSINO, Program Officer

CAETLIN M. OFIESH, Associate Program Officer

VERNA J. BOWEN, Administrative and Financial Associate

JENNIFER T. ESTEP, Administrative and Financial Associate

JARED P. ENO, Research Associate

NICHOLAS D. ROGERS, Research Associate

TONYA FONG YEE, Program Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2008. Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the U.S. Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12034.
×

Preface

Earth resources—including those derived from the air, water, and land—are essential inputs into economic activity and fundamental determinants of our quality of life. The availability and quality of these resources and the adequacy of their supply, in both the short term and the long term, have been perennial national concerns over at least the last century. In the decades following World War II, for example, concerns centered around the adequacy of energy and mineral resources because of their significant use during the war and in postwar reconstruction. Indeed, throughout the entire latter half of the twentieth century, concerns have continually resurfaced about the reliability of supplies of key energy and mineral resources relevant for national security. In the 1970s, the nature of the concerns shifted to the short- and long-term reliability and availability of foreign sources of oil and other energy and nonfuel mineral resources such as bauxite and cobalt. A heightened public awareness of the importance of these resources, and of the long-term availability of all types of natural resources, became part of the national discussion. This awareness was one result of two decades of significant economic growth in North America and Europe, the beginning of the Japanese economic boom, and the emerging global interest in the effects of resource extraction and other human activities on environmental quality.

In the twenty-first century, the nature of the concerns over Earth resources has shifted once again. Energy and mineral commodity prices are relatively high for the first extended period since the 1970s, driven primarily by unexpectedly large demand growth in China, India, and other countries. At the same time, while the United States remains an important producer of energy and mineral resources, the extraction and production of these resources overall has shifted away from the United States toward other nations; U.S. import dependence for many commodities has increased and has raised concerns about reliability of the foreign supply.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2008. Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the U.S. Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12034.
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While the issue of foreign dependence on oil and gas is a dominant theme in the media and in discussions regarding national energy policy, the advent of the Information Age has demanded an ever-wider range of metallic and nonmetallic minerals to perform essential functions in new products such as computers, cellular telephones, and transportation equipment. Although no crisis of national proportions—or proportions similar to the oil embargo of 1973, for example—has occurred with regard to nonfuel mineral availability for the United States, technical advances and the globalization of the mineral market raise the question, will the necessary nonfuel mineral resources be available in time and at acceptable costs to meet burgeoning demand for these and other emerging products and technologies? Growing recognition that primary nonfuel mineral producers must give greater priority to the social and environmental consequences of mineral extraction for local communities and the natural environment, and that secondary resources from recycling are underexploited, add further to the set of issues being considered in determining national approaches for responsible and effective acquisition and use of nonfuel mineral resources.

Within that broad context, this study was motivated by concerns expressed to members of the Committee on Earth Resources of the National Research Council (NRC) by the nonfuel minerals community regarding the nature and adequacy of federal support both to understand the nonfuel minerals that are important to the nation’s economy and functions, and to collect nonfuel mineral data appropriate for making informed policy decisions that help avoid restrictions in nonfuel mineral supply. This study was intended to address nonfuel mineral issues in advance of a national crisis with the idea that it is potentially prudent and cost-effective to determine policy and appropriate action before any such crisis occurs. For these reasons, the Committee on Critical Mineral Impacts on the U.S. Economy, appointed by the NRC, was asked to identify and review nonfuel minerals that are “critical” for domestic industry and emerging technologies; assess their global trends in sources and production; examine potential constraints on their availability; identify impacts of restrictions in their supply on the domestic economy; and describe and evaluate current and future nonfuel mineral information, databases, and research that could enhance the under-

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2008. Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the U.S. Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12034.
×

standing of mineral criticality in a global context. The committee comprises individuals with expertise in nonfuel mineral exploration and ore deposits, mineral economics, metallurgy, statistics, federal and international standards, regulatory policy, recycling, industrial materials and manufacturing, and mineral processing and engineering, including nanotechnology. More committee information is available in Appendix A.

The committee found the task of identifying critical minerals to be an exciting and multifaceted challenge and worked diligently to find a framework that would capture the dynamic nature of critical minerals. Although it is not a panacea, the “criticality matrix” described in this report became the organizing framework around which we developed our assessment. This matrix serves as a conceptual lens through which to view and assess mineral criticality. During the course of this study, the committee was convinced of the importance of the availability of consistent, unbiased data and analysis on a complete suite of nonfuel minerals that were, are now, or may become critical. Informed decisions on nonfuel minerals depend on access to these types of data.

All members of the committee provided key insights and took part in drafting this report. The committee was ably assisted by, and in fact could not have functioned effectively without, the NRC staff members assigned to this study, Senior Program Officer Elizabeth A. Eide and Research Associate Nicholas D. Rogers. We thank them heartily. We also thank the reviewers for their criticisms and constructive suggestions for the report.

Nonfuel minerals will continue to be important to U.S. consumers and the economy. We hope our assessment will be helpful to decision makers and the general public as they evaluate the role of minerals in the economy and will inform public policies regarding mineral information and minerals more generally.


Roderick G. Eggert

Chair

August 2007

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2008. Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the U.S. Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12034.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2008. Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the U.S. Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12034.
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Acknowledgments

In addition to its own expertise, the committee relied on input from numerous external professionals with extensive experience in nonfuel minerals and materials research, industrial applications for minerals, mineral exploration, and government and environmental policy from federal agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. These individuals provided testimony on which nonfuel minerals they found critical to their own work, which minerals might become critical in the future, and which data were required, collected, and accessible to aid them in making better or more efficient decisions with regard to access to these minerals. This information was extremely important to the committee in formulating its report, and we would like to express our appreciation to the many highly qualified individuals who provided testimony, data, and advice during the course of the study; in particular, the committee would like to thank Mark Barton, John Benner, David Cammarota, Catherine Cochran, Rick Deery, John DeYoung, Mark Ellis, Jason Goulden, Rich Heig, Ivan Herring, Anthony Hodge, Jeremiah Johnson, Kate Johnson, Phil Jones, Michael Kaas, Pat Leahy, Marc LeVier, James Marder, Dave Menzie, Glenn Miller, John Morgan, Jr., Shinsuke Murakami, Lauren Pagel, Gina Pearson, Carol Raulston, Joanne Shore, Lew Sloter, and Larry Stevens.

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report:

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2008. Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the U.S. Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12034.
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William X. Chavez, Jr., New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro

Harry M. Conger, Homestake Mining Company, Palo Alto, California

Rhea L. Graham, Pueblo of Sandia, Bernalillo, New Mexico

Glenn C. Miller, University of Nevada, Reno

Robert Reiley, U.S. Department of Commerce (retired), Reston, Virginia

Mark C. Roberts, Michigan Technological University, Houghton

Steven D. Scott, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Spencer R. Titley, University of Arizona, Tucson

Kathleen Walsh, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Jean-Michel M. Rendu, mining consultant, and William G. Agnew, General Motors Corporation (retired). Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2008. Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the U.S. Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12034.
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Minerals are part of virtually every product we use. Common examples include copper used in electrical wiring and titanium used to make airplane frames and paint pigments. The Information Age has ushered in a number of new mineral uses in a number of products including cell phones (e.g., tantalum) and liquid crystal displays (e.g., indium). For some minerals, such as the platinum group metals used to make cataytic converters in cars, there is no substitute. If the supply of any given mineral were to become restricted, consumers and sectors of the U.S. economy could be significantly affected. Risks to minerals supplies can include a sudden increase in demand or the possibility that natural ores can be exhausted or become too difficult to extract. Minerals are more vulnerable to supply restrictions if they come from a limited number of mines, mining companies, or nations. Baseline information on minerals is currently collected at the federal level, but no established methodology has existed to identify potentially critical minerals. This book develops such a methodology and suggests an enhanced federal initiative to collect and analyze the additional data needed to support this type of tool.

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