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United States Critical Mineral Resources in a Global Context

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The problem:

A broad range of existing and emerging technologies are generating unprecedented demand for less-common commodities, such as
lithium (Li),
indium (In),
tellurium (Te),
gallium (Ga),
antimony (Sb),
beryllium (Be), and
rare earth elements (REE).

These technologies range from new alternative energy sources to seemingly mundane routine uses such as fire-retardants. For a variety of reasons, supplies of these elements tend to lag significantly behind demand. One of the principal causes of this lag is the limited amount of exploration done in the last few decades for new sources of many critical minerals. To help ensure an adequate supply of these commodities requires answers to these questions:
  1. How important is the commodity to our present economy and standard of living?
  2. How much of it do we have and to what extent is it economically, environmentally, and technologically available? and
  3. How and where can more be found both in the United States and elsewhere?

What we will do:

We will provide updates, for selected critical mineral commodities, of:

  1. the current state of knowledge of their geology;
  2. known resources, both US and global;
  3. geoevironmental issues related to their production and use; and
  4. geologic possibilities for finding additional deposits, both US and global.

The final product of this project will be an update of the 1973 U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 820, United States Mineral Resources (PP 820). This report presents a synthesis of the state of knowledge of the geology of both major and minor mineral commodities (major metals and industrial minerals as well as a number of commodities of lesser importance at that time) along with an appraisal of the known resources, and an examination of the geologic possibilities for finding additional deposits. Since this report was published, considerable advancements have been made concerning the geology of mineral deposits. In addition, several commodities considered of minor importance in 1973 have today become critical to the national economy and security. A revised PP 820 will provide up-to-date information to inform government and the public on the status of critical mineral resource commodities in the United States in a global context.

Project Staff
Klaus Schulz, project chief
(703) 648-6320
Dwight Bradley, associate project chief
(907) 786-7434
John DeYoung, associate project chief
(703) 648-6140


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