Accessing Critical Minerals: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

mineralsCoverCritical minerals are essential for the composition of modern technologies, from consumer devices to weapon systems. Access to critical minerals is important for defense applications as well as economic security. With projections for increased demand and absence of viable substitutes, competition to secure these minerals will grow. However, critical minerals are not evenly distributed across the globe, nor does each coun- try have the infrastructure in place to process unrefined, raw material. Current supplies to the US rely on imports, some from potentially unfriendly countries. For certain critical minerals, there are limited numbers of sources of raw materials and refin- ing plants. Both defense and consumer needs might be jeop- ardized should adversaries embargo supplies. Often, critical minerals are embedded in finished products that are procured from international sources, masking the reliance on limited foreign sources. The US needs a diversity of acquisition routes of critical minerals to mitigate vulnerabilities from unstable market pressures or fickle foreign sources.

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