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By Shane Lasley
Mining News 

The definitive list

Interior issues final critical minerals list; begins strategy to boost U.S. supply

 

Last updated 6/8/2018 at 4:30am

Alaska Senator, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources chair

Sen. Lisa Murkowski

In an initial move to implement President Donald Trump's strategy to break the United States' growing reliance on foreign countries for minerals and metals vital to its security and economy, the U.S. Department of Interior published a final list of 35 critical minerals on May 18.

An executive order signed by President Trump in December instructed Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, in consultation with Secretary of Defense James Mattis, to identify and publish a list of minerals critical to America.

By February, the U.S. Geological Survey had drafted a list of 35 critical minerals, all of which made it to the final list.

"The expertise of the USGS is absolutely vital to reducing America's vulnerability to disruptions in our supply of critical minerals," said Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science, Tim Petty.

This list ranges from widely known metals such as aluminum and tin, to the more exotic elements like indium, niobium and rare earth elements.

"I thank Secretary Zinke for his efforts to develop this list of minerals, highlighting our most critical vulnerabilities," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. "These minerals are needed for energy, healthcare, manufacturing, defense, agriculture, and other technologies, and we must now take real steps to secure a reliable, long-term domestic supply."

Next strategic steps

Trump's executive order lays out the next steps of the strategy to bolster a domestic supply of the 35 critical ingredients to modern personal and military devices.

Within six months of establishing the critical minerals lists, Trump wants a report that includes:

• a strategy to reduce the nation's reliance on critical minerals;

• an assessment of critical minerals recycling and reprocessing technologies;

• alternatives to critical minerals;

• options for accessing critical minerals through trade with U.S. allies and partners;

• a plan to improve geological mapping of the United States and its mineral resources;

• recommendations to streamline lease permitting and review processes; and

• ways to increase discovery, production, and domestic refining of critical minerals.

Interior said the report, which is due for completion by Aug. 16, is expected to include analyses and strategies to strengthen and sustain the supply chains for all minerals, not just the minerals deemed critical based on the 2018 analysis.

This is largely due to the fact that recommendations to improve permitting processes for critical minerals will improve permitting processes for all minerals administered under the same laws and regulations administered by federal agencies.

Editor's note: For more information on 35 critical minerals, including a brief description of their uses and the 29 Mining News has identified in deposits, prospects and occurrences across Alaska, read 35 minerals critical to the United States in this week's edition of Mining News.

 

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