May 23, 2018
The unique properties of minerals have long made them invaluable ...
The technologies that define innovation today all depend on minerals—from lifesaving medical devices to hybrid cars and advanced energy technologies.
Minerals and metals are irreplaceable components of modern technology. Take just one metal—platinum—as an example. Used in more than 20 percent of all manufactured goods, platinum is essential to creating countless products we use every day, including personal computers, flat-screen TVs, hybrid cars and lifesaving medical devices.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, manufacturing grew at a rate of 5.7 percent in 2017, producing $5.9 trillion in output and up about 2 percent since 2012. As manufacturing returns to American shores, our industries will require more minerals and metals than are currently available and supply chain challenges will become increasingly taxing. U.S. manufacturers are now more than 50 percent reliant for 29 of the 35 minerals designated as “critical” by the Secretaries of Defense and the Interior. These minerals are essential to America’s manufacturing resurgence and a strong U.S. economy, which is why it’s time our policy makers revisit our broken minerals mining policies.
Opening the Door to Advanced Energy Technologies
Minerals are the backbone of renewable energy technologies. For instance, copper is used in the wiring of solar panels and is a critical component of wind turbines. Furthermore, copper is used in the lithium-ion batteries and wiring that power electric vehicles. Another example is manganese, used in the steel alloy as well as in the wind-and-solar power-storing batteries in hybrid and electric vehicles. It is also just one on a long list of minerals used to power both off-shore and on-shore wind power plants.
Protecting Health, Saving Lives
Without minerals and metals, many of the life-saving medical devices, and even medications, that doctors and patients rely on daily would cease to function. Minerals such as copper, silver and gold mined right here in the United States are crucial materials to operate CAT scan devices. Likewise, lithium is widely utilized in pacemakers, defibrillator machines and other types of portable electronic equipment. And titanium is used in orthopedic surgery for items such as pins, bone plates, wires, rods, stentrodes and screws…just to name a few of the minerals that help keep Americans healthy.
Minerals That Keep Americans Safe
Minerals are a key component of our national security. The United States Department of Defense uses 750,000 tons of minerals annually—much of which could be sourced domestically. For example, chromium, nickel and molybdenum are combined in precise amounts and applied to purified scrap metal, resulting in steel armor plates able to withstand explosions and gunshots; while beryllium is used in airborne equipment to detect and destroy improvised explosive devices (IEDs).