USGS releases updated list of critical minerals
The 2022 list of critical minerals was determined using the most up-to-date scientific methods to evaluate mineral criticality. The new list contains 15 more commodities compared to the nation’s first list of critical minerals created in 2018. Much of the increase in the new list is the result of splitting the rare earth elements and platinum group elements into individual entries rather than including them as “mineral groups.” In addition, the 2022 list of critical minerals adds nickel and zinc to the list while removing helium, potash, rhenium and strontium.
“Critical minerals play a significant role in our national security, economy, renewable energy development and infrastructure,” said Tanya Trujillo, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science. “USGS data collection and analysis scans the horizon for emerging issues in crucial supply chains, and every three years identifies the nation’s current vulnerabilities to potential disruptions."
The new list was created based on directives from the Energy Act of 2020, which indicates that at least every three years, the Department of the Interior must 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. The update list can be found here.
Much of the increase in the number of mineral commodities, from 35 commodities and groups on the final 2018 list to 50 commodities on the 2021 draft list, is the result of splitting the rare earth elements and platinum group elements into individual entries rather than including them as mineral groups. In addition, the 2021 draft list adds nickel and zinc and removes helium, potash, rhenium, and strontium.
“Mineral criticality is not static, but changes over time,” said Steven M. Fortier, USGS National Minerals Information Center director. “The 2022 list of critical minerals was created using the most recent available data for non-fuel mineral commodities. However, we’re always analyzing mineral markets and developing new methods to determine the various and evolving critical mineral supply chain risks.”
Prior to publishing the 2022 list of critical minerals, the USGS completed a thorough review of more than 1,000 comments received from the public, stakeholders and local and state officials. These comments were received in response to the draft critical minerals list the USGS released for public comment in November 2021.
“The USGS appreciates the input we received from the public and stakeholders,” Fortier said. “In addition to reviewing each comment for the current methodology, we are also identifying opportunities to include some of the suggestions we received in the next update of the critical minerals list methodology.”
The list of critical minerals will be the focus of USGS research quantifying critical mineral potential within the U.S. In President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the USGS received funding for its Earth Mapping Resource Initiative, which will update the Nation's mapping of these minerals, including those still in the ground and those present in mine wastes.
The Energy Act of 2020 directed the USGS to update the list of critical minerals, and the list is timely to provide guidance for use of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds, both for the USGS and other agencies.