Physics Community Supports Amendment to Legislation on Critical Minerals

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Publication date: 
27 July 2012

APS Physics, a Member society of the American Institute of  Physics (AIP), worked with strategic materials producers, industry, and  manufacturing organizations to draft a letter of support for critical minerals legislation.  The letter, endorsed by the AIP and the  American Geophysical Union, another AIP Member Society, along with 35 other  organizations, was addressed to Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Ranking  Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources  Committee.

The organizations that signed on to the letter did so to demonstrate  support for an amendment to the Critical Minerals Policy bill.  That amendment, which was originally agreed  upon by Bingaman and Murkowski, strikes a balance between addressing issues in  the critical minerals supply chain “from  surveys and production to research and recycling” while also considering environmental  concerns regarding the mining of minerals. 

The letter emphasizes that “critical minerals are essential to the clean energy, defense,  agricultural, academic, electronics, financial, and medical sectors, among  others. Our organizations, like you, understand the strategic importance of  these materials and are committed to addressing threats to the reliability and  affordability of supplies.” 

The Critical Minerals Policy bill serves to identify known  mineral resources; provide quantitative and qualitative assessments of  undiscovered critical mineral resources; and address exploration, development,  and other uses of critical minerals.   There  was potential for concern about the original bill language due to its emphasis  on mining critical minerals.

The Bingaman-Murkowski amendment addresses the need for research  and recycling by focusing on analytical and forecasting capabilities and the  use of market dynamics as a tool to avoid supply shortages.  It also encourages environmentally  responsible production of domestic resources to meet national critical  materials needs while also balancing the costs of those minerals to the  scientific community.  In addition, the  amendment bolsters international cooperation through technology transfer and  promotes mineral recycling.

The text of the letter can be found here.