A new piece in the New Scientist underlines the importance of strategic metals to our new economy — from tech toys like the iPad and smart phones to green-tech applications ranging from solar panels to wind turbines.
The Tellurium in the title is an element critical to new solar panel applications. As New Scientist puts it: “Demand for many of these unsung elements is soaring, so much so that it could soon outstrip supply.”
The catch, as I outlined in my House testimony, is that you can’t mine Tellurium. It’s recovered — extracted — in the course of mining copper or, to a lesser extent, some gold and lead deposits.
At present, one company in the U.S. extracts Tellurium from copper. Last year, U.S. manufacturers imported 49 percent of the Tellurium they used from China.