The assured supply of critical minerals and the resiliency of their supply chains are essential to the economic prosperity and national defense of the United States. The United States is heavily dependent on foreign sources of critical minerals and on foreign supply chains resulting in the potential for strategic vulnerabilities to both our economy and military. Mitigating these risks is important and consistent with our country’s National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy to promote American prosperity and to preserve peace through strength.
The United States imports most critical mineral commodities. Specifically, the United States is import-reliant (imports are greater than 50 percent of annual consumption) for 31 of the 35 minerals designated as critical by the Department of the Interior. The United States does not have any domestic production and relies completely on imports to supply its demand for 14 critical minerals.
To address this problem and reduce the Nation’s vulnerability to disruptions in the supply of critical minerals, President Donald J. Trump issued Executive Order 13817, A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals, on December 20, 2017. The Executive Order directs the Secretary of Commerce, in coordination with heads of selected executive branch agencies and offices, to submit a report to the President that includes:
- “a strategy to reduce the Nation’s reliance on critical minerals;
- an assessment of progress toward developing critical minerals recycling and reprocessing technologies, and technological alternatives to critical minerals;
- options for accessing and developing critical minerals through investment and trade with our allies and partners;
- a plan to improve the topographic, geologic, and geophysical mapping of the United States and make the resulting data and metadata electronically accessible, to the extent permitted by law and subject to appropriate limitations for purposes of privacy and security, to support private sector mineral exploration of critical minerals; and
- recommendations to streamline permitting and review processes related to developing leases; enhancing access to critical mineral resources; and increasing discovery, production, and domestic refining of critical minerals.”
This report, A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals, presents 6 Calls to Action, 24 goals, and 61 recommendations that describe specific steps that the Federal Government will take to achieve the objectives outlined in Executive Order 13817.
When executed, this strategy will improve the ability of the advanced technology, industrial, and defense manufacturing sectors that use critical minerals to adapt to emerging mineral criticality issues; reduce risks for American businesses that rely on critical minerals; create a favorable U.S. business climate for production facilities at different stages of critical mineral supply chains; and support the economic security and national defense of the United States; all of which will reduce the Nation’s vulnerability to critical mineral supply disruptions.
The Calls to Action outlined in this Strategy are listed below.
- Advance Transformational Research, Development, and Deployment Across Critical Mineral Supply Chains: Assesses progress toward developing critical minerals recycling and reprocessing technologies, technological alternatives to critical minerals, source diversification, and improving processes for critical mineral extraction, separation, purification, and alloying.
- Strengthen America’s Critical Mineral Supply Chains and Defense Industrial Base: Discusses ways to improve critical mineral supply chains, which could help reduce risks to U.S. supply by increasing domestic critical mineral resource development, building robust downstream manufacturing capabilities, and ensuring sufficient productive capacity.
- Enhance International Trade and Cooperation Related to Critical Minerals: Identifies options for accessing and developing critical minerals through investment and trade with America’s allies, discusses areas for international collaboration and cooperation, and ensures robust enforcement of U.S. trade laws and international agreements that help address adverse impacts of market-distorting foreign trade conduct.
- Improve Understanding of Domestic Critical Mineral Resources: Provides a plan to: improve and publicize the topographical, geological, geophysical, and bathymetrical mapping of the United States; support mineral information collection and analysis of commodity-specific mitigation strategies; focus and prioritize interagency efforts; and conduct critical mineral resource assessments to support domestic mineral exploration and development of conventional sources (minerals obtained directly through mining an ore), secondary sources (recycled materials, post-industrial, and post-consumer materials), and unconventional sources (minerals obtained from sources such as mine tailings, coal byproducts, extraction from seawater, and geothermal brines) of critical minerals.
- Improve Access to Domestic Critical Mineral Resources on Federal Lands and Reduce Federal Permitting Timeframes: Provides recommendations to streamline permitting and review processes related to developing mining claims or leases and enhancing access to domestic critical mineral resources.
- Grow the American Critical Minerals Workforce: Discusses the activities related to critical minerals needed to develop and maintain a strong domestic workforce to foster a robust domestic industrial base.
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