Boron can be found in electric vehicles, vital military hardware, wind turbines, solar panels, satellites, and more. The mineral – already listed as a national strategic mineral – is important for the United States’ economy, climate strategy, and national security. However, the U.S. Geological Survey has yet to include boron on the list of “critical minerals,” which the Energy Act of 2020 defines 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. The lack of critical mineral designation could hamper the domestic production of boron, but that may be changing soon as discussed below.
California’s Mojave Desert is believed to have the world’s largest known new boron deposit. A mine in the region, known as Fort Cady, has an estimated mineral resource of 120 plus million tons of the type of borate, colemanite, which accounts for 90% of the mineral used globally. Fort Cady also has a large source of lithium (see our earlier post on lithium’s potential), which is an important element for batteries and electric vehicles. Fort Cady further benefits from proximity to an interstate highway, railroad, deep-water port, high voltage power line, gas line, and approved water infrastructure.
An industry leader in boron sourcing and processing is set to begin mining at Fort Cady soon, with small scale mining operations set to begin by the end of this year and large scale production by 2025. However, mining boron deposits is very costly and time consuming. Listing boron on the list of critical minerals would help alleviate such issues by giving stakeholders access to extensive government funding, incentives, and partnerships.