Trump administration announces strategy to secure supply of critical minerals

June 4, 2019

The Trump administration released, “A Federal Strategy to Ensure a Reliable Supply of Critical Minerals,” that directs the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to locate domestic supplies of critical minerals, ensure access to information necessary for the study and production of minerals, and expedite permitting for minerals projects.

“Thanks to President Trump’s leadership, today’s federal strategy lays out a blueprint for America to once again be a leader in the critical minerals sector,” said Secretary David Bernhardt. “As with our energy security, the Trump Administration is dedicated to ensuring that we are never held hostage to foreign powers for the natural resources critical to our national security and economic growth. The Department will work expeditiously to implement the President's strategy from streamlining the permitting process to locating domestic supplies of minerals.”

Currently, the U.S. relies on other countries completely for more than a dozen of minerals deemed vital to the national economy and security. These minerals are among the 35 minerals identified as critical by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the DOI said in a release.

Mining remains the most important method for acquiring critical minerals, and Federal lands provide significant opportunities for mining. Prolonged federal permitting and land management policies have inhibited access to and the development of domestic critical minerals, which has contributed to an increased reliance on foreign sources of minerals, the DOI said in a release.

To reduce unnecessary permitting delays and increase access to critical minerals, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which is responsible for onshore mineral rights and mining on lands managed by BLM, will undertake a comprehensive review of its permitting and land classifications, as well as its management plans. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will undertake a similar review for mineral permitting in the Federal Offshore and Exclusive Economic Zone.

To find these new deposits of critical minerals, the USGS has embarked on a new nationwide program of surface and subsurface mapping – the Earth Mapping Resources Initiative – to better inform the country about its critical minerals potential. The BOEM has initiated a complementary effort to better evaluate the nation’s offshore mineral potential.

Alternatives, such as recycling, processing mine waste, extraction from seawater, or even filtering them from energy byproducts, could prove valuable sources for critical minerals. USGS will assist other Federal agencies, including the Department of Energy, Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture and DOI bureaus like the BLM and BOEM, with evaluating these unconventional methods for bolstering the traditional supplies of critical minerals.

Data on mining, processing, and transporting critical minerals are essential to strengthening domestic supply chains, and the USGS will continue to supply that data through a variety of authoritative scientific publications. Those data inform biennial re-evaluations of which minerals are critical to the United States.

In addition, the USGS will conduct at least one multi-commodity critical mineral resource assessment every two years, supplying the results to Federal land managers and the public. Meanwhile, BOEM will work with partners such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to develop a method for assessing critical mineral potential in the Federal Offshore and Exclusive Economic Zone.



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