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Trump signs executive order to ensure US's critical minerals supply

New York (Platts)--21 Dec 2017 1222 pm EST/1722 GMT


US President Donald Trump signed Wednesday an executive order for developing a federal strategy that ensures "secure and reliable supplies" of critical minerals.

Inked amid growing concern about reliance on imports, the order aims to reduce "this dependency of the United States on foreign sources," for minerals such as cobalt, graphite, lithium and others.

The executive order, in fact, was signed a day after the US Department of the Interior and the US Geological Survey issued a comprehensive report showing that the US is "100% foreign-reliant on 20 minerals," and that "rare earth minerals are produced almost exclusively in China." The report identified 23 of the minerals that the Interior Department says are most-needed to sustain the national defense and economy "and are used in manufacturing everything from batteries and computer chips to equipment used by our military."

According to the recently released USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries 2017, the US was 100% net import reliant on 20 mineral commodities in 2016, including manganese, niobium, tantalum and others.

Also among the 23 minerals cited in Interior's report are antimony, beryllium, cobalt, graphite, lithium, platinum group elements, tin, titanium and vanadium.

In addition to China, many of these minerals are sourced from Russia, South Africa, Brazil and Canada.

"Despite the presence of significant deposits of some of these minerals across the United States, our miners and producers are currently limited by a lack of comprehensive, machine-readable data concerning topographical, geological, and geophysical surveys; permitting delays; and the potential for protracted litigation regarding permits that are issued," noted the executive order.

A final list of the critical minerals must be published in the Federal Register not more than 60 days after the executive order. Then, within 180 days after that, a report must be submitted to the president with a strategy to reduce US reliance on such imported minerals.

--Joe Innace, joseph.innace@spglobal.com

--Edited by Alisdair Bowles, alisdair.bowles@spglobal.com




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