The U.S. Department of Energy has announced stepped-up research efforts into critical metals and minerals. Planning to spend up to $120 million, the department aims to create an “Energy Innovation Hub” with the goal to advance green energy technologies relying on critical mineral resources including (but not limited to) rare earths. Says Secretary of Energy Steven Chu:
“We must ensure America’s entrepreneurs and manufacturers continue to have access to these critical materials so we can compete in the global energy economy.”
The announcement is not only timely in light of the upcoming release of an American Resources study surveying the U.S. federal government’s approach to critical metals and minerals; it is a welcome development as our (unnecessary) over-reliance on foreign mineral resources is fraught with many challenges. However, in order to achieve the goals spelled out by Secretary Chu it is crucial that U.S. policy makers acknowledge the importance of moving from research to action.
While the rest of the world is off to the races when it comes to overhauling their mineral strategies to meet their resource needs against geological as well as geopolitical realities, the U.S. has begun to pay attention to the issue, but has yet to take active steps to address the many challenges associated with it. As Jack Lifton, Director of Technology Metals Reasearch, has aptly put it:
“I’m seeing a great deal of smoke and no fire. I am seeing a lot of talk, Congressional hearings, bills drafted – but I am seeing no shovel.”
This week’s Strategic Minerals Conference 2012, taking place on June 6, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC will look at what roles the public and private sectors can and must play in the maximization of our domestic mineral resource potential.
For more information including related video from some of the conference participants
and an updated agenda visit www.strategicmineralsconference.com.