Rare Earth Elements and Critical Minerals

Rare Earth Elements and Critical Minerals

Round Top Rare Earth Element prospect near Sierra Blanca, Texas.

A focus of research on rare earth elements (REE) contributes to the USGS major science goals and priorities as outlined in Circular 1309, specifically towards “Energy and Minerals for America’s Future: Providing a Scientific Foundation for Resource Security, Environmental Health, Economic Vitality, and Land Management”.  The importance of the minerals supply to the overall vitality and security of the domestic economy has also been highlighted by studies by other national organizations (e.g. NRC, 2008; DOE, 2010).  The studies in this program that address all aspects of rare earth elements as a mineral resource, from mineral genesis to exploration, extraction, processing and economics are particularly relevant to governmental and industry partners that prioritize research topics addressing availability and assessment of REE and other critical mineral resources as a key component of domestic energy critical elements (e.g. Price, 2011).  As with other research areas, CEE collaborates with the Economic Minerals Program on energy sector applications and trends that focus on REE and other critical minerals, in particular supply-demand balances, economics of minerals recovery and trade flows and associated issues.



DOE, 2010, Critical minerals strategy: U. S. Department of Energy, 171 p.

NRC, 2008, Minerals, critical minerals, and the U. S. economy (summary):  National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, 17 p.

Price, J. G., 2011, Energy critical elements:  Securing materials for emerging technologies:  Min. Engineering, v. 63, p. 33-34.