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Title: Findings Report: Workshop on Resilient Supply of Critical Minerals
On August 2-3, 2021, the Thomas J. O’Keefe Institute for Sustainable Supply of Strategic Minerals at Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) hosted the NSF-funded virtual workshop ‘Resilient Supply of Critical Minerals’. The workshop was convened via Zoom and attracted 158 registrants, including 108 registrants from academia (61 students), 30 registrants from government agencies, and 20 registrants from the private sector. Four topical sessions were covered: A. Mineral Exploration and Source Diversification. B. Supply Chain and Policy Issues. C. Improving Mineral Recycling and Reprocessing Technologies. D. Technological Alternatives to Critical Minerals. Each topical session was composed of two keynote lectures and followed by a breakout session that was designed to identify promising pathways towards increasing critical supply chain resilience in the United States. During each breakout session, participants were asked to address five questions: Q1. What are the roadblocks that affect the resilient supply of critical minerals? Q2. What are the most pressing research needs? Q3. What opportunities can lead to the fastest and biggest impact? Q4. What skills training is required to meet future workforce demands? Q5. What other questions should be asked, but are commonly overlooked? Several issues that limit critical mineral supply chain resilience in the United States were identified and discussed in all breakout sessions, more » including: 1. Insufficient understanding of domestic critical minerals resources. To address this issue, workshop participants highlighted the need for (i) more geologic research to identify new and evaluate existing resources; and (ii) a qualitative and quantitative assessment of critical minerals that may be recovered as by/co-products from existing production streams. 2. Technical limitations of current mineral processing and recycling technologies. To address this issue, workshop participants highlighted the need for (i) innovative mineral processing technologies, including more environmentally friendly chemicals/solvents, and (ii) automated recycling technologies for appliances and e-waste. Participants also highlighted the need for a centralized and simplified way to collect recyclable materials, and incentives for the public to participate in recycling. 3. Long permitting processes for mining and mineral processing operations, with often unpredictable outcomes. To address this issue, workshop participants suggested the development of new critical mineral focused policies with faster processing times and more transparent / predictable decision-making processes. 4. The negative public image of mining and mineral processing operations. To address this issue, workshop participants suggested to design public outreach / education initiatives and to include local communities into decision-making processes. 5. Limited availability of a critical mineral workforce. To address this issue, workshop participants suggested an increased focus on critical mineral specific skill training in higher education institutions, and advanced training of the existing workforce. « less
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NSF Workshop Reports
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National Science Foundation
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