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Critical Minerals


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  • Revealing Alaska's critical minerals

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jul 10, 2020

    Geologists familiar with Alaska already know the Far North State is a great place to explore for critical minerals and metals such as graphite, rare earths, platinum metals, cobalt and tin. A new report published by the U.S. Geological Survey, however, indicates that Alaska may be richer in these and other minerals and metals vital to the economy and security of the United States than previously realized. Working alongside the Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical... Full story

  • US critical minerals policy President Trump Sen. Murkowski Rep. Amodei

    US leaders address critical minerals

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jul 10, 2020

    U.S. President Donald Trump sparked a renewed interest in critical minerals and metals when he issued an executive order calling on federal agencies to devise a strategy to ensure the United States has reliable supplies of these commodities vital to America's economic and strategic security. "It shall be the policy of the federal government to reduce the nation's vulnerability to disruptions in the supply of critical minerals, which constitutes a strategic vulnerability for... Full story

  • Alaska is rich in critical rare earths

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jun 22, 2020

    Alaska is rich in rare earth, a unique group of elements that are so distinctive that most are placed in their own separate section at the bottom of the periodic table. While scientist have long realized that rare earths possessed distinctive characteristics that set them apart from their fellow elements, it wasn't until the advent of the color television in the 1960s that these unique properties had any sort of widespread practical application. Over the ensuing five decades,... Full story

  • Indispensable twin metals critical to US

    Indispensable twin metals critical to US

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jun 22, 2020

    With nearly indistinguishable characteristics, niobium and tantalum are considered the "indispensable twins" among the 35 minerals and metals considered critical to the United States. "Niobium and tantalum are transition metals that are almost always found together in nature because they have very similar physical and chemical properties," the U.S. Geological Survey wrote in a 2018 paper on the twin metals. While nearly identical twins, they each have their own set of unique... Full story

  • Copper turns green with critical minerals

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jun 22, 2020

    While copper is not on the United States Geological Survey's list of 35 minerals and metals critical to America, there is no doubt of this metal's importance to both the everyday and avant-garde technologies vital to America's economy and security. "None of the other critical minerals work without copper," Trilogy Metals President and CEO Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse told Mining News. Automobiles are a prime example of how emerging technologies and green energy will drive the demand... Full story

  • Pebble copper deposit in Alaska hosts 40-year supply of vital jet metal

    Rhenium – the hot superalloy element

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jun 22, 2020

    With a melting point of 5,756 degrees Fahrenheit and a heat-stable crystalline structure, rhenium is extremely resistant to both heat and wear. This durability makes it a vital element in superalloys used in jet and industrial gas turbine engines. "The high-temperature properties of rhenium allow turbine engines to be designed with finer tolerances and operate at temperatures higher than those of engines constructed with other materials," the United States Geological Survey... Full story

  • Metal Tech News - Discovering the elements of innovation

    New battery tech revives vanadium interest

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jun 22, 2020

    The strength and durability of steel and other alloys is greatly enhanced by adding a small amount of vanadium, currently the primary use of this critical mineral. While this toughness is legendary, the future of vanadium could rest in another set of more subtle traits that could make it the element of choice for large-scale storage of renewable energy generated by wind and solar. "Vanadium is becoming more widely used in green technology applications, especially in battery... Full story

  • Getting hooked on Cassiterite deposits leads to other critical minerals

    Tin – Alaska's gateway critical mineral

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jun 22, 2020

    With more than 100 known tin occurrences, Alaska is considered the best place in America to establish a domestic source of this critical alloy metal that has defined human progress since the dawn of the Bronze Age. "Today, Alaskan tin deposits are known to be widespread, occurring from the central Alaska Range north to the Brooks Range and across Interior Alaska ... Southwest Alaska and the Seward Peninsula," according to the 1997 publication, Mineral Deposits of Alaska. And... Full story

  • Strategic beryllium makes critical list

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jun 22, 2020

    Roughly 78 percent of the United States' beryllium needs are met by domestic mine production, making it unique among the 35 minerals and metals that have been listed as critical to America. While the U.S. Geological Survey's definition does not state that America must be net import-reliant on a mineral or metal for it to be considered critical, this is a common thread among most of the other 34 on the list. Among the lightest and stiffest of the metals, beryllium has unique... Full story

  • Metal Tech News - Discovering the elements of innovation gold

    Gold – a pathfinder to critical minerals

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jun 22, 2020

    Since the stampedes of prospectors trekked North in the latter half of the 19th Century, the lure of Alaska's rich gold lodes has drawn dreamers and miners North. Today, four hardrock mines and hundreds of family-run placer operations across the Last Frontier churn out roughly 1 million ounces of this alluring precious metal each year – and the largest stores of aurum discovered here have yet to be realized. Despite being a relatively rare metal that has served as a c... Full story

  • Metal Tech News - Discovering the elements of innovation antimony

    Antimony – resists heat, draws criticality

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jun 22, 2020

    Antimony is a poor conductor of heat, an attribute that lends itself to this semi-metal's most common use, as an ingredient to make clothing, mattresses and other products flame resistant. While making work clothes and household items safer and less likely to catch fire is a relatively new use for antimony, humans have been using antimony for other purposes for more than 5,000 years. "For example, the ancient Egyptians and early Hindus used stibnite, which is the major ore... Full story

  • Metal Tech News - Discovering the elements of innovation tellurium

    Tellurium – solar lights metalloid future

    Updated Jun 22, 2020

    Extremely rare, yet a vital ingredient to emerging solar panel technologies, tellurium is the epitome of what it means to be a critical metalloid, an element that possesses the properties of both a metal and non-metal. "Most rocks contain an average of about 3 parts per billion tellurium, making it rarer than the rare earth elements and eight times less abundant than gold," the United States Geological Survey wrote in a 2015 report on this critical metalloid. "Grains of... Full story

  • Metal Tech News - Discovering the elements of innovation tungsten

    China domination makes tungsten critical

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jun 22, 2020

    Extremely hard and with the highest melting point of all the elements on the periodic table, tungsten is vital to a broad spectrum of commercial and military applications, yet there are no mines in the United States producing this durable metal. Nearly 60 percent of the tungsten consumed in the U.S. during 2018 was used to make the cemented tungsten-carbide, a compound of roughly equal parts tungsten and carbon. Roughly twice as strong as steel, tungsten carbide is often... Full story

  • Metal Tech News - Discovering the elements of innovation

    Titanium – the lighter, whiter metal

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jun 22, 2020

    Titanium conjures images of the durable and lightweight metal used to build aircraft, replacement hips, high-end bicycle frames and even quality golf clubs. While its outstanding weight-to-strength ratio and corrosion resistance makes this critical metal ideal for these applications, roughly 93 percent of the world's titanium is used to impart a stark whiteness to many of the consumer goods we use every day. "Titanium is different than most other metallic elements in that it... Full story

  • Metal Tech News - Discovering the elements of innovation

    Zirconium-hafnium – bound beyond nature

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jun 22, 2020

    Zirconium and hafnium are closely related elements that share bonds that tie them together in nature, an affinity that carries over into their industrial applications. "Zirconium and hafnium are metals that are used in the chemical and nuclear-reactor industries in applications for which corrosion resistance, structural stability at high temperatures, and specific alloying properties and (or) specific neutron-absorption characteristics are required," the United States... Full story

  • Metal Tech News - Discovering the elements of innovation

    PGEs – the hard-working precious metals

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jun 22, 2020

    The six platinum group elements – platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium – are amongst the rarest metals on Earth. This scarcity, coupled with PGEs' uses in the automotive, petrochemical and electronics industries, has this group of industrious precious metals firmly planted on the United States Geological Survey's critical minerals list. "PGEs are indispensable to many industrial applications but are mined in only a few places," USGS inked in a 2017 rep... Full story

  • Metal Tech News - Discovering the elements of innovation chromium

    No viable substitute for critical chromium

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jun 22, 2020

    A vital ingredient in stainless steel and superalloys, chromium is considered by the United States Geological Survey as "one of the nation's most important strategic and critical materials." "Because there is no viable substitute for chromium in the production of stainless steel and because the United States has small chromium resources, there has been concern about domestic supply during every national military emergency since World War I," the USGS explains. Rich chromite... Full story

  • EV batteries to drive 9x graphite growth

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jun 22, 2020
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    At least 125 million electric vehicles are expected to be traveling global highways by 2030, which means the world is going to need a lot more graphite in the coming decade and beyond. This is because graphite serves as the anode in the lithium-ion batteries that power these EVs, not to mention the growing number of portable tools and electronics that use the same type of battery. According to Mineral Commodity Summaries 2019, an annual report published by the United States... Full story

  • Vital optics metal already a byproduct of mining Red Dog zinc

    Fiber-optics, solar drive germanium demand

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jun 22, 2020

    In addition to being a past producer and a future source of most of the 35 minerals and metals considered critical to the United States, Alaska currently contributes a globally significant amount of one of these vital metals – germanium. While not a widely known metal, germanium has optical qualities that make it an important ingredient in fiber-optics, infrared optics, electronics and solar energy systems. "The extensive use of germanium for military and commercial a...

  • Virtually all flat-panel displays, touchscreens have indium coating

    Indium – the everyday metal you never see

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jun 22, 2020

    If you are reading this article on your computer, tablet or phone, you are almost certainly looking through indium as we speak; and, if that devise happens to be a touchscreen you have the unique properties of this critical mineral to thank as you scroll down to read more about indium and where it can be found in Alaska. This is because indium-tin oxide is used as a transparent conducting film applied to virtually every flat-panel display and touchscreen on the market. This... Full story

  • Barite weighs in on critical minerals list

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jun 22, 2020

    While not the flashiest of the 35 minerals on the United States Geological Survey's critical list, barite plays an essential role in America's energy sector. Barite derives its name from barús, the Ancient Greek word for heavy, owing to an exceptionally high specific gravity for a non-metallic mineral. It is this weight that makes barite a key element to the oil and gas sector and lands the mineral on USGS' critical list. "More than 90 percent of the barite sold in the United... Full story

  • Batteries create critical cobalt situation

    Shane Lasley, Mining News|Updated Jun 22, 2020

    Cobalt is a critical safety ingredient in the cathodes of lithium-ion batteries powering the ever-increasing number of electric vehicles traveling global highways and a plethora of cordless electrical devices. "Globally, the leading use is in the manufacture of cathode materials for rechargeable batteries – primarily lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium, and nickel-metal-hydride batteries – which are used in consumer electronics, electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, energy sto... Full story