Missouri S&T hosts national discussion on critical minerals

press release

August 21, 2023

For over 150 years, Missouri University of Science and Technology has been a leader in the field of mineral recovery, and that continued to be the case for a week in August when the university hosted the third annual Resilient Supply of Critical Minerals national workshop.

The workshop, which was held Aug. 9-10 and funded by the National Science Foundation, had 128 in-person attendees and an additional 90 participants online. In its first two years, the workshop was fully remote due to COVID-19.

“The workshop series brings together stakeholders from vastly different backgrounds who otherwise rarely cross paths,” said Marek Locmelis, an associate professor of geology and geophysics at Missouri S&T and a faculty fellow in research and innovation. “We had many fruitful discussions between academics, industry visitors and representatives from federal- and state-level agencies that kick started collaborations to increase critical mineral supply chain resilience.”

Topics of the workshop included the potential for mining critical minerals in the United States, mineral processing and recycling, critical mineral policies and resource sustainability. Multiple keynote speakers covered the topics, as did other experts who delivered oral presentations.

Critical minerals are necessary for countless devices that most people consider important for their everyday life, Locmelis said. For example, indium is necessary for screens on cell phones and televisions, gallium is used for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and electric vehicles require multiple critical minerals, including lithium, cobalt and manganese.

The two-day event featured breakout sessions, an expert panel on workforce development, poster presentations and a dinner at the Missouri S&T experimental mine. The day after the workshop, 20 participants visited the Doe Run Co.’s Brushy Creek Mine in Reynolds County, MO.

Several Missouri S&T departments assisted with the workshop. Co-organizers from S&T included:

  • Locmelis, workshop chair
  • Dr. Alanna Krolikowski, assistant professor of history and political science
  • Dr. Mahelet Fikru, associate professor of economics
  • Dr. Michael Moats, chair of materials science and engineering
  • Dr. Kwame Awuah-Offei, chair of mining and explosives engineering
  • Dr. Lana Alagha, associate professor of mining engineering
  • Dr. Mark Fitch, associate professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering
  • Shelby Clark, Ph.D. student in geology and geophysics

Planning for next year’s national workshop is already underway.

“Missouri S&T is uniquely positioned to host this annual workshop due to the variety of academic programs and experts we have on campus who are connected to the critical minerals supply chain,” said Locmelis. “The critical minerals crisis is not something our country will solve over night, but we will continue to address this issue at S&T with this workshop and our ongoing research. We will take what we learned and continue to make headway toward developing a strong supply of critical minerals for the United States’ needs.”

Photo (left to right): Dr. Dawn Wellman, Rio Tinto; Amber Steele, Missouri Geological Survey; Dr. Jeffrey Mauk, U.S. Geological Survey; Dr. Michelle Michot Foss, Baker Institute, Rice University; and Thomas Sonderman, alumnus of Missouri S&T and chief executive officer, SkyWater Technology. Photo by Greg Edwards/Missouri S&T.

About Missouri University of Science and Technology
Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) is a STEM-focused research university with more than 7,000 students. Part of the four-campus University of Missouri system and located in Rolla, MO. Missouri S&T offers 101 degrees in 40 areas of study and is among the nation’s top 10 universities for return on investment, according to Business Insider. For more information about Missouri S&T, visit www.mst.edu.


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