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Our dangerous metals deficiency: DOE releases its new critical minerals strategy

The Department of Energy officially released its 2011 Critical Materials Strategy, an update of last December’s inaugural report on metals essential to green-tech applications ranging from wind and solar power to EV batteries and CFL lighting.  Five metals made the critical risk quadrant for both the short-term (today to 2015) and medium-term (2015 to 2025); all five are Rare Earths (dysprosium, terbium, yttrium, europium and neodymium).  Tellurium — a derivative of Copper, American Resources first Metal of the Month — and Indium — a derivative of this Month’s Metal of the Month, Zinc — are rated “near-critical” by the DOE.   For anyone who advocates a green manufacturing base in the U.S., DOE’s assessment is cause for concern:  “Supply challenges… may affect clean energy technology deployment in the years ahead.”

For followers of American Resources, it’s worth noting Pillar 1 of DOE’s strategy:

“…Diversified global supply chains are essential.  To manage supply risk, multiple sources of materials are required.  This means taking steps to facilitate extraction, processing and manufacturing here in the United States, as well as encouraging other nations to expedite alternative supplies.  In all cases, extraction, separation and processing should be done in an environmentally sound manner.”

In terms of diagnosis, no other U.S. Government agency can match DOE’s efforts to understand our critical metals dependency.  As for a cure to our “metals deficiency,” it remains for Congress and the White House to make domestic resource development a policy priority.