Dr. Michael Moats, chair of materials science and engineering at Missouri S&T, appeared before a U.S. House of Representatives panel Thursday (Feb. 9, 2023) to provide expert testimony on critical minerals production in the United States and the impact of foreign production of these minerals to the U.S.
Moats, a professor of metallurgical engineering at S&T with over 30 years of experience as an extractive metallurgist, was invited to appear before the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations for its hearing, “Dependence on Foreign Adversaries: America’s Critical Minerals Crisis.”
“Critical minerals are very important to modern life,” Moats told the subcommittee (video). He noted that of the 87 elements used for manufacturing, 50 are identified as critical minerals, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. “We often focus on the battery minerals and the rare earths, but if you don’t have gallium you don’t have Wi-Fi. If you don’t have indium you don’t have the touchscreen. If you don’t have tellurium you don’t have some solar panels. There’s a lot more to it than just the battery minerals and the rare earths that are often talked about in the news.”
Moats added that China outproduces the U.S. in other important materials for modern life, such as copper and steel. China produces 11 million tons of copper every year, compared to the 2 million tons produced annually by the U.S.
Moats called on the U.S. to “level the playing field” for U.S. mining companies and to invest more in educating the future critical minerals work force.
“We need to focus on the trades as well as the engineers” to expand production of critical minerals, he said.