You may not realize it, but our modern high-tech lifestyle requires enormous amounts of minerals -- about 25,000 pounds per person each year to make the various products and gadgets we use every day, from toothpaste and paint to cell phones, computers and automobiles.
But even as we become increasingly dependent upon them, the availability of some important minerals is at risk. In some cases, that's because deposits might become exhausted, while others come from places where geopolitical conflicts, instability or competition with rival nations might interfere with our supply. Here are some particularly critical, difficult-to-replace substances that might become hard to get in the near future.
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