Critical MineralsUSGS Seeks Public Comment on Draft List of 50 Critical Minerals

Published 9 November 2021

The U.S. defines a “critical mineral” as a non-fuel mineral or mineral material essential to the economic or national security of the U.S. At least every three years, the Department of the Interior is required to review and update the list of critical minerals On Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced it is seeking public comment by Dec. 9, on a draft revised list of critical minerals.

On Tuesday, 9 November, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)  announced it is seeking public comment by Dec. 9, on a draft revised list of critical minerals. 

“The USGS’s critical minerals list provides vital information for industry, policymakers, economists and scientists on the most important minerals when it comes to U.S. supply chains,” said Tanya Trujillo, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science. “The statistics and information are crucial to understanding America’s vulnerability to disruptions in the supply of critical minerals, including data on the worldwide supply and demand for minerals and materials essential to the U.S. economy and national security.” 

Under the Energy Act of 2020, a “critical mineral” is defined as a non-fuel mineral or mineral material essential to the economic or national security of the U.S., as well as the supply chain, which is vulnerable to disruption. Critical minerals are also characterized as serving an essential function in the manufacturing of a product, the absence of which would have significant consequences for the economic or national security. 

In 2018, the Department of the Interior worked in consultation with other cabinet agencies to develop the nation’s first list of critical minerals in response to Executive Order 13817.  

Under the Energy Act of 2020, at least every three years the Department is required to review and update the list of critical minerals, update the methodology used to identify potential critical minerals, take interagency feedback and public comment through the Federal Register, and ultimately finalize the list of critical minerals, also referred to as the whole-of-government critical minerals list. 

After two years, working with the National Science and Technology Council’s Critical Minerals Subcommittee, the USGS published a report describing the updated methodology for assessing critical minerals for the list and latest results. This report formed the basis for the draft 2021 whole-of-government critical minerals list.  

The draft 2021 whole-of-government critical minerals list includes the following — click a mineral’s name to find relevant statistics and publications: 

Aluminum, used in almost all sectors of the economy 

Antimony, used in lead-acid batteries and flame retardants 

Arsenic, used in semi-conductors 

Barite, used in hydrocarbon production. 

Beryllium, used as an alloying agent in aerospace and defense industries 

Bismuth, used in medical and atomic research 

Cerium, used in catalytic converters, ceramics, glass, metallurgy, and polishing compounds 

Cesium, used in research and development 

Chromium, used primarily in stainless steel and other alloys 

Cobalt, used in rechargeable batteries and superalloys 

Dysprosium, used in permanent magnets, data storage devices, and lasers