Demand for basic and rare-earth minerals is expected to increase substantially in the coming decades, both domestically in the United States, and around the globe. Some estimates predict that global mineral demand will be 60 percent higher in 2050 than it is today. For more traditional minerals such as copper and nickel, demand could triple in that time. The United States relies heavily on imports for its rare-earth mineral resources—these minerals include yttrium, scandium, and neodymium. Between 2014 and 2017, the United States obtained a staggering 80 percent of its rare-earth mineral resources from China. Globally, China has about one-quarter of the world’s land-based deposits of rare-earth minerals and supplies nearly all the world’s rare-earth minerals. See Jessica Aldred, The Future of Deep Seabed Mining, The Maritime Executive, Mar. 1, 2019; Rare Earth Mineral Commodity Summary, National Minerals Information Center, U.S. Geological Survey (2019); Doug Struck, Treasures of the Deep: Tapping a Mineral-Rich Ocean Floor, Trust Magazine, Aug. 13, 2018. These minerals are used in technologies ranging from wind turbine magnets to LED screens to guided missile technology. While the United States’ need for these minerals to revolutionize its energy, high-tech, and defense industries cannot be understated, continuing to rely on a single trading partner for these minerals is proving increasingly untenable.
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