It has been said that chromium, cobalt, manganese, titanium and the platinum group are the so-called "metallurgical Achilles’ heel” of U.S. civilization. Let’s explore why.



Fig. 1. U.S. consumption of strategic minerals by end-use application

It has been said that chromium, cobalt, manganese, titanium and the platinum group (Fig. 1) are the so-called "metallurgical Achilles’ heel” of U.S. civilization. Let’s explore why.

Fig. 2. The size of Africa

So, where do we go to get the minerals we rely on? Let’s break this down by continent starting with Africa. The world forgets how big Africa is (Fig. 2) ... and how mineral rich!

Fig. 3. Current supply sources for chromium

Four important minerals that the U.S. imports in vast quantities from African nations are:

1. Chromium, which is used in stainless steel, tool steel and for high-temperature applications. Since 1961, the U.S. has relied100%on other nations for chromium.

Going forward, the Republic of South Africa and Zimbabwe contain a staggering 98% of the world's reserves of this mineral.

2. Cobalt –Cobalt-based superalloys are used primarily in gas turbines and jet engines. Cobalt has not been mined in the U.S. since1971because the amount that the U.S. can produce cannot compete with the price from other countries.

Fig. 4. Major producers of cobalt ore