Barriers to and uncertainties in understanding and quantifying global critical mineral and element supply

iScience. 2021 Jul 1;24(7):102809. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2021.102809. eCollection 2021 Jul 23.


The critical minerals and elements are natural substances that are essential to modern life but have insecure supply. This lack of a secure supply clashes with the increasing importance of these elements, especially given their use in technologies needed to reduce global CO2 emissions and mitigate against anthropogenic climate change. In this contribution we review the by-product nature of the critical minerals and elements and the inherant uncertainties in reported critical mineral and element annual production as well as the relationships between these commodities and main-product metals and associated concentrates. We explore the geological and geographical barriers to critical mineral and element supplies, as well as how the lack of available data and the uncertainties in the data that are available hinder our ability to estimate global resources with confidence.

Keywords: energy sustainability; environmental geochemistry; environmental policy; environmental science; geochemistry.

Publication types

  • Review