Critical Minerals Technology Assessment
Background: Critical minerals, such as lithium, cobalt, or rare earth elements, are essential for technologies used across the economy, including in energy, transportation, and consumer electronics. These minerals are vulnerable to supply-chain disruptions for multiple reasons, including restrictions associated with foreign government policies, natural disasters, and rapid growth in demand, prompting researchers to develop or advance technologies to increase and diversify the domestic supply of these minerals. These efforts include recovery of critical minerals from nontraditional sources like mine tailings, geothermal brines, and coal wastes. Mineral extraction from these sources can be beneficial as compared to hardrock mining or other traditional methods, but may pose unique economic, technological, or regulatory challenges. Key Questions: 1.What nontraditional sources are available for domestic recovery of critical minerals and what is the status of associated recovery technologies? 2. What are the benefits and challenges of recovering critical minerals from these sources? 3. What options could policymakers consider to enhance the benefits or mitigate the challenges associated with domestic recovery of critical minerals from nontraditional sources?
Short title:
Critical Minerals Technology Assessment
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Project leader:
Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics team of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) (STAA)
United States of America