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US finalizes critical minerals list

The U.S. Department of the Interior published a final list of 35 metals and minerals in the Federal Register that it considers "critical" as part of a push by the Trump administration to consider ways to lessen U.S. dependence on foreign supplies.

The list is the same as a draft version proposed in February and will form the backbone of a report President Donald Trump has mandated the Commerce Department to produce under Executive Order 13817, which is aimed at boosting domestic supplies of the metals and minerals.

It is unclear what specific recommendations or conclusions the Commerce Department may draw, but avenues that are being considered include lessening mine permitting timelines in the U.S. to spur production of the designated commodities.

The report is expected to come out in August.

The impetus for the executive order — to boost U.S. industry and protect supplies of metals, of which some have defense applications — mirrors Trump's move to protect the U.S. steel and aluminum industries on national security grounds.

The list includes more esoteric metals that are used in small amounts in technological applications but also includes bulk commodities such as aluminum and metals such as cobalt and lithium that are critical to producing lithium-ion batteries.

Juniors such as NioCorp Developments Ltd., which holds U.S. development projects, hailed the move, saying it could help attract investment.