US adds nickel, zinc to draft critical minerals list, drops potash – by Mariaan Webb ( – November 2021)

The US Geological Survey (USGS) has added nickel and zinc to its proposed list of 50 ‘critical minerals’ – defined as those essential to economic or national security and with a supply chain vulnerable to disruption – while four others, including potash, have fallen off the draft 2021 list.

The USGS has released its draft revised list of critical minerals and is allowing public comment until December 9. “The USGS’s critical minerals list provides vital information for industry, policymakers, economists and scientists on the most important minerals when it comes to US supply chains, says Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo.

The 2021 draft list uses a new methodology, based on a quantitative evaluation and a semi-quantitative evaluation of whether the supply chain had a single point of failure, and a qualitative evaluation when other evaluations were not possible.

The agency explains that nickel, used to make stainless steel, super alloys and rechargeable batteries, was included on the single point of failure criterion. This is owing to the operation of a single refinery in the US that produces crystalline nickel sulphate.

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