• The U.S. Needs to Ditch Its America-First Approach to Critical Minerals

    More and more countries with advanced economies have begun to prioritize the supply and value chains for critical minerals and rare-earth elements because of their links with advanced and low-emissions technologies. In some countries, governments have responded to the critical minerals challenge by adopting a new version of economic nationalism. But unilateral responses will not produce secure or reliable supply chains. Indeed, economic nationalism may actually aggravate the problem.

  • Looking for Critical Minerals in Mine Waste

    Mine waste is the material left over after mining. It consists of tailings, the material that remains after mined ore is milled and concentrated, as well as the topsoil, waste rock and other materials that were removed to get to the ore. Some critical-mineral commodities, like rare earth elements, are known to occur alongside more commonly mined minerals like iron or nickel. Because of this, mine-waste sites are now being revisited.

  • U.S., China Compete for Africa's Rare Earth Minerals

    African countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo have some of the largest deposits of these resources, but China currently dominates the supply chain as well as their refinement and the U.S. wants to reduce its reliance on the Asian giant.

  • U.S. Nonfuel Mineral Production Jumps $3.6 Billion in 2022

    U.S. mines produced approximately $98.2 billion in nonfuel mineral commodities in 2022—an estimated $3.6 billion increase over the 2021 revised total of $94.6 billion.

  • Creating Buildings That Can Withstand the Most Extreme Stress Loads

    Combined ballistic impacts pose a major challenge for engineers who build structures that must withstand extreme stresses. An explosion can hurtle fragments and debris at enormous velocities so they strike the surroundings. Then comes the shock wave. It’s a scary combination.

  • Batteries Are the Battlefield

    The United States is one of many countries pursuing the clean energy revolution, and which have ramped up investment in electric vehicles manufacturing and renewable energy sources to power the shift away from fossil fuels. Christina Lu and Liam Scott write that this is an industry that has already been staked out by another power: China.

  • Rare Earths Find in Sweden: A Gamechanger?

    A big find of raw materials critical for green technology has been announced in Sweden. Since Europe does not produce its own so-called ‘rare earths’ so far could this news be a gamechanger?

  • Winners of AI for Critical Mineral Assessment Competition

    Winning solutions in DARPA-USGS competition will help the USGS automate key steps in evaluating geologic maps of mineral deposits that are vital to the U.S. economy and security.

  • Phosphorus Supply Is Increasingly Disrupted – We Are Sleepwalking into a Global Food Crisis

    Without phosphorus food cannot be produced, since all plants and animals need it to grow. Put simply: if there is no phosphorus, there is no life. All farmers therefore need access to it, but 85% of the world’s remaining high-grade phosphate rock is concentrated in just five countries, making the global food system extremely vulnerable to disruptions.

  • Critical Minerals Repositories Discovered in Northern Maine

    A team of state and federal scientists have discovered an area in northern Maine that is high in critical mineral resources, highlighting for the first time the importance of this region to the U.S. mineral resource economy.

  • The Global Race to Secure Critical Minerals Heats Up

    The World Trade Organization last week ruled that Indonesia had no right to ban the export of nickel or to require that raw nickel ore be refined in Indonesia. Handing a comprehensive victory to the complainant, the European Union, the WTO decision highlights the clash between national security and global trade rules over critical minerals.

  • Australia and Its Partners Must Do more to Avoid Dependence on China for Rare Earths

    Low labor costs, indifference to the environmental impacts of mineral processing, and the rest of the world dropping the ball while focusing on other issues allowed Beijing to achieve global dominance of critical-minerals markets, with almost 80% control of rare earths and up to 94% of other critical minerals like magnesium. The global markets for rare-earth elements and critical minerals are shaping to be the next economic hot zone for the Chinese Communist Party—and for the security of the world’s advanced economies.

  • China and Global Development of Critical Resources

    To what extent has China adhered to its pledge to not build new overseas coal power plants? What are the main concerns related to China’s ownership or control over power transmission and distribution companies in Latin America? What is the state of China’s deep- and distant-sea and seabed mining exploration activities, and to what extent does it use these activities for ulterior strategic purposes?

  • Faster and More Efficient Computer Chips Thanks to Germanium

    Researchers have succeeded in making a new type of material usable for chip technology. This enables faster, more efficient computers and new types of quantum devices.

  • Vacuuming-Up Rare Metals from the Deep-Sea Floor

    At the bottom of the ocean lie lumps of valuable metals such as copper, manganese, nickel and cobalt - materials crucial to accelerating the energy transition. Researchers are working on a project called ‘Blue Harvesting,’ and they have designed and tested a new collector that can gather these nodules from the deep sea bottom with minimal disturbance to the natural environment.