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35 Minerals Absolutely Critical to U.S. Security

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35 Minerals Absolutely Critical to U.S. National Security

35 Minerals Absolutely Critical to U.S. National Security

Draft list released by feds on Feb 16th, 2018

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

What do cobalt, uranium, helium, titanium, and fluorspar have in common?

According to the U.S. government, these are all minerals that are deemed critical to both the economic and national security of the country.

The draft list of 35 critical minerals was released on February 16, 2018 as the result of President Trump’s Executive Order 13817, which asked the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Secretary of Defense to publish a list of mineral commodities that are vital to U.S. interests.

Under the Executive Order, a critical mineral is defined as:

A non-fuel mineral or mineral material essential to the economic and national security of the United States, the supply chain of which is vulnerable to disruption…

The list includes minerals that are important for defense, economic, and industrial purposes – and it keys in especially on minerals that are not produced in substantial quantities domestically.

Why These Critical Minerals?

We sorted the list based on some of the key uses of these minerals.

Critical Minerals by Use

Of course, some of these minerals could belong in multiple categories: for example, vanadium is used as a steel and titanium alloy strengthener, but also in rechargeable vanadium flow batteries.

That said, the important commonality to note for all of these minerals is their crucial link to the U.S. economy and national security.

Preparing for the Worst-Case Scenario

Imagine the hypothetical impact of a lack of uranium for nuclear plants, a hampered ability to create high-strength steel and superalloys for the U.S. military, or if U.S. auto manufacturers had limited access to aluminum, steel, PGMs, and battery metals.

The challenge, as U.S. federal authorities realize, is that many of these raw materials are produced in limited amounts domestically. In fact, according to the USGS, the country sources at least 31 of the aforementioned materials chiefly through imports.

While it is unlikely that these supply chains would ever be disrupted, it’s never a bad idea to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

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Mining

The Biggest Salt Producing Countries in 2023

In this graphic, we break down global salt production in 2023. China is currently the top producer, accounting for almost 20% of output.

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Voronoi graphic breaking down global salt production in 2023.

The Biggest Salt Producing Countries in 2023

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Humanity has utilized salt for thousands of years, dating back to ancient civilizations. The U.S. alone consumes more than 48 million tonnes of salt per year.

In this graphic, we break down global salt production in 2023, measured in tonnes. These estimates come from the U.S. Geological Survey’s latest commodity report on salt.

Ample Supply

Salt is essential for human life, serving various purposes including food preservation, flavor enhancement, industrial processes, and health maintenance. The good news is that the world’s continental resources of salt are vast, and the salt content in the oceans is nearly unlimited.

China is currently the top producer of salt, with almost 20% of the output, followed by the U.S. (15%) and India (11%).

CountryProduction (tonnes)
🇨🇳 China53,000,000
🇺🇸 United States42,000,000
🇮🇳 India30,000,000
🇩🇪 Germany15,000,000
🇦🇺 Australia14,000,000
🇨🇦 Canada12,000,000
🇨🇱 Chile9,200,000
🇲🇽 Mexico9,000,000
🇹🇷 Turkey9,000,000
🇷🇺 Russia7,000,000
🇧🇷 Brazil6,600,000
Rest of world67,000,000
Global total273,800,000

The global salt market was valued at $32.6 billion in 2022.

It’s projected to grow from $34.1 billion in 2023 to $48.6 billion by 2030, with a CAGR of 5.2% during the forecast period. This suggests a surprising amount of growth for what is one of the world’s oldest and most common commodities.

Facts About the U.S. Salt Industry

In the U.S., salt is produced by 25 companies, which operate 63 plants across 16 states.

The states that produce the most salt are Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Utah. Altogether, these states account for 95% of domestic production.

The primary uses of salt in the U.S. are highway de-icing (41%), chemical production (38%), and food processing (10%).

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