Now more than ever, securing and processing critical minerals (CMs) and rare earth elements (REEs) is essential to the technological progress and decarbonization of the nation’s energy grid. China controls more than 80 percent of the world’s REEs—an imbalance that threatens U.S. energy independence and technological innovation.
Critical minerals, as defined by the US Geological Survey, include well known elements like aluminum, nickel, magnesium, zinc and lesser-known commodities like gallium, rhodium, hafnium, and europium. They are considered critical because of their supply chain necessity and lack of viable substitutes.
Rare earth elements are critical minerals, but they are semantically separated by their being chemically similar to one another, harder to extract compared to base metals like nickel or platinum, and because of their wide use in digital technology.
Everything from the phone in your pocket to your vehicle’s catalytic converter (or its batteries if you drive an EV) make use of critical minerals.
How can the Southeast respond to the growing need for CMs and REEs? To answer that question and more, we were joined by:
- Dr. Grant Bromhal, Acting Director of the Mineral Sustainability Division at the U.S. Department of Energy;
- Danny Gray, Executive VP of Strategy and Business Operations at Green Cement Inc. and SSEB’s Associate Member Chair;
- Dr. Michael Karmis, Director of the Virginia Center for Coal & Energy Research (Ret.); and
- Dr. Charles Sims, Energy & Environment Program Director at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.