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US critical mineral imports up 7.9% y-o-y in Q2 – report

Rare earths are 17 related minerals found widely dispersed in the Earth’s crust. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

US imports of critical minerals increased 7.9% in the second quarter on a year-over-year basis but stayed relatively flat quarter over quarter, according to an analysis by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

In the first half of 2021, the volume of critical minerals flowing into the country surpassed the 316,108 tonnes imported in the first six months of 2020 by 41,209 tonnes, the report showed.

About three dozen materials fall under the US Interior Department’s list of critical minerals deemed to be important to national security and the economy. These include the manganese and graphite used in electric vehicle batteries, the rare earth elements installed in the magnets used in wind turbines and EV motors, and several other materials required to build clean energy technologies.

According to the S&P data, a majority of the critical minerals imported during the quarter came from South Africa, with 41.4%, while top rival China contributed another 7.9% of the imports. Gabon, Mexico and Japan were also among the top sources of critical minerals for the US.

“We are dependent upon different countries, most notably China, for a number of our critical mineral resources,” wrote Abigail Wulf, director of critical minerals strategy for Securing America’s Future Energy, a group advocating for greater US energy independence.

“We are 100% import-reliant on 13 of the 35 critical minerals that the Department of Interior has classified,” Wulf added.

(Click here for the S&P commentary on the latest report)