Thursday, December 28, 2017

Following Trump's Executive Order on Critical Minerals the Interior Department Begins First Ever National Survey of Same

First up, from Platts, December 21:

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

And from the Department of the Interior that day:

Secretary Zinke Signs Order to Begin Process of Creating First Ever National Survey of Critical Minerals
Date: December 21, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, following President Donald J. Trump's executive order to break America's dependence on foreign minerals, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed a secretarial order directing the initial steps to producing the first nationwide geological and topographical survey of the United States in modern history. The order also directs Interior bureaus to begin work on identifying immediate domestic sources for critical minerals.

"Right now the United States is almost completely reliant on foreign adversaries and competitors for many of the minerals that are deemed critical for our national and economic security. As both a former military commander and geologist, I know the risk this presents to our nation," said Secretary Ryan Zinke. "The problem is we can't fix the problem if we don't know where the minerals are within our own boarders. Other nations are far ahead of us with mapping of their mineral resources, leading to private sector investment overseas rather than right here at home. Drafting a complete topographical and geographic survey of the United States is exactly the kind of task the USGS was created to do."

"Our nation’s growing dependence on foreign minerals is a distinct threat to our economy, our national defense, and our international competitiveness," Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said. "We need to improve all aspects of the supply chain – from geologic surveying to permitting reform – so that our nation produces more of the minerals that are fundamental to energy, health care, manufacturing, and other technologies. I welcome Secretary Zinke’s determination to strengthen our nation’s mineral security, and will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to ensure we complement these efforts with legislative action."

"A country blessed with abundant mineral resources shouldn’t be mineral-dependent and vulnerable," said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT). "This is an economic and security threat that’s festered across administrations for too long. I look forward to continuing our work with the Trump administration to unlock our domestic mineral potential and reverse this disturbing trend."

The United States is heavily reliant on imports of certain mineral commodities that are vital to our national security and economic prosperity. This dependency on foreign sources creates a strategic vulnerability to U.S. industry and the military if supplies of these key minerals were disrupted by foreign government action, natural disasters, or other events....MORE