top of page


the Energy Transition

What are Critical Minerals?

Critical minerals underpin the foundation of the modern world. We cannot build modern technologies such as:

  • electric vehicles,

  • wind turbines,

  • solar panels,

  • hydroelectric plants, or

  • hydrogen-based technologies without raw materials.

The U.S. Energy Act of 2020 defines a “critical mineral” as a non-fuel mineral or mineral material essential to the economic or national security of the U.S. and which has a supply chain vulnerable to disruption. Critical minerals are also characterized as serving an essential function in the manufacturing of a product, the absence of which would have significant consequences for the economy or national security. 

CMA USA splits critical minerals into three flexible categories.

Critical Minerals

Minerals that are necessary for the industrial objectives of a country or company. Most of these have supply chain vulnerabilities.

Technology Metals

Metals that are necessary to make new technology work. These have limited supply chain vulnerabilities.

Strategic Minerals

Minerals with diplomatic or defence importance (e.g. germanium, gallium, REEs). 

Industries Reliant on Critical Minerals








Science & Innovation



Drivers of Criticality

Increasingly, more minerals and metals are added to critical minerals lists by nations that are concerned over their supply chain security.


Underinvestment in exploration and early-stage critical minerals projects, lengthy planning and permitting processes, red tape, and international competition have limited domestic production.


Outsourcing of midstream processing and refining to third nations have contributed to the monopolisation of supply chains.

Key drivers impacting criticality include: 

  • projected demand for energy transition applications, defence, technology and agriculture outstripping current and projected production;

  • geopolitical disturbances to supply chains; 

  • limitations of the circular economy, including recovery rates, policy and legislation, technological challenges; 

  • increased nationalisation of resources; 

  • lack of substitution options. 

bottom of page