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Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the U.S. Economy
Information Team analyses do not regularly address in-use stocks of metals, scrap stock and trade, detailed recycling information, and other aspects of mineral availability and criticality centered on stages of the material life cycle well removed from mineral extraction and processing.
ENHANCING OUR UNDERSTANDING OF CRITICAL MINERALS: FEDERAL INFORMATION AND RESEARCH NEEDS
The Mineral Cycle, Federal Information Exchange, and Research
As previous chapters have demonstrated, minerals are rarely used in their raw form as an end product. They are incorporated into an intermediate or final product that takes advantage of the properties of the particular mineral to improve the performance of the final application. For that reason it is not enough to have information only about the primary production of the mineral. As outlined in Chapter 1, the entire life cycle of the mineral is important because it directly affects the supply-demand relationship. If markets function well, the price mechanism will bring about adjustments in the supply-demand relationship that will restore the balance over time. If the market mechanism is to function properly it is absolutely essential that the market have good information about both sides of the equation. Good information about all stages of the life cycle of the mineral becomes increasingly important if markets are not completely well functioning—for example, if significant environmental damage accompanies production or if innovative research is an important determinant of long-term mineral availability.
The USGS MRP, which has oversight of the Minerals Information Team, is the only federal program that provides resource assessments and research on mineral potential, production, consumption, and environmental impacts. The committee is supportive of the incorporation of critical minerals as a specific piece of this type of mineral life-cycle analysis by the MRP and the Minerals Information Team and by other federal agencies collecting mineral-related data.