Awareness of Associations Between Minerals Could Unlock Keys to Addressing Critical-Metals Supply

The world stands at the precipice of an event that threatens to significantly impact human society by disrupting the natural, social and economic systems it relies on to thrive. With the effects of climate change becoming frighteningly clearer by the day, most countries have pledged to transition from fossil fuels to clean and renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind and geothermal power.

However, the global-energy transition will have to overcome an issue that could prevent many nations from achieving their green-energy goals in time: a shortage of critical minerals.

Critical minerals are metallic and nonmetallic elements that have key applications in modern technologies, economies or national security, and whose supply chains face a constant risk of disruption. These metals includes copper, nickel, manganese, tungsten, lithium, zinc and vanadium, which will be key to developing green-energy infrastructure and electric vehicles.

Most experts concede that the mining sector will struggle to meet the increasing demand for critical minerals and metals. But while future projections of critical mineral supply gaps often focus on the number of additional mines that would be necessary to shore up critical mineral supply, looking at the geological characteristics of critical mineral ore deposits and accumulations could provide a way of addressing the critical-mineral shortage.

In most cases, metals are found bonded to other elements such as carbon, sulfur and oxygen to create minerals that are also associated with different types of rocks. Exploration of specific mineral deposits usually depends on the concentration of the mineral accumulations, with mining companies only beginning mining operations if a site proves that it has high enough mineral concentrations to achieve profitability. However, this locks out key minerals that often occur in minor concentrations because they don’t offer companies any commercial viability.

This means that such metals are often mined as byproducts of other major metals, meaning their supply is inherently tied to the supply of other host metals. As a result, ramping up their supply in the face of increased demand can be nigh impossible if the host metal hasn’t experienced a similar surge in demand.

Critical metals such as iridium, ruthenium and rhodium may never be mined as the main product because they occur in very minor concentrations. Reassessing the byproduction potential and mineralogy of mineral deposits could provide mining companies with opportunities to expand critical-mineral production.

Recycling critical minerals from orphaned, abandoned or closed mines and tailing storage facilities could also shore up critical mineral supplies while limiting environmental pollution.

Enterprises such as First Tellurium Corp. (CSE: FTEL) (OTCQB: FSTTF) have focused on improving the supply of critical metals such as tellurium in North America. Their activities could bring new insights into how the world can efficiently reduce the dominance of China in these supply chains.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to First Tellurium Corp. (CSE: FTEL) (OTCQB: FSTTF) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/FSTTF

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