USGS - science for a changing world

GMEG - Mineral and Environmental Resources

Minerals at Risk and for Emerging Technologies

Mineral supply is a recurring problem manifest in today's high mineral and metal prices. Rapid economic growth in China and India has pushed mineral demand beyond the ability of mineral producers to respond with additional production capacity. There are several emerging technologies essential to development of alternative fuels, reductions in carbon dioxide and other emissions, and sequestration of carbon dioxide with potential mineral requirements that can greatly exceed current production capacity and possibly known resources. Evaluating these potential shortfalls will helps investors in emerging technologies chose alternatives that are most feasible with respect to future mineral supplies. This same kind of potential supply analysis can be extended to mineral commodities in general, identifying and quantifying the potential impact of minerals at risk of supply problems. Another potential supply problem is unanticipated impurities in minerals that create environmental hazards or disposal problems and may affect performance for consumers. Developing ways to predict the occurrence of these impurities from observable geological factors will helps direct mineral investment toward environmentally more benign resources.

The objectives of this project will be achieved through three tasks:

  1. Minerals at risk, which will address quantitative measures of mineral supply risk, strategic options to deal with that risk, and investigate some significant backstop resources
  2. Minerals for emerging technologies will evaluate the geology and resource potential of minerals for carbon dioxide sequestration and reduction, as well as for several other mineral commodities essential for emerging alternative energy, energy-saving, and other advanced technologies
  3. Mineral and byproduct purity, which will address the geology of impurities in widely-used industrial minerals, trace elements in metal ores that are or may be valuable byproducts, and the geological relationship between industrial mineral deposits and asbestos.

Subtasks

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