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US finalizes 'critical' minerals list, includes cobalt, lithium, PGMs

London — Battery metals such as lithium and cobalt, as well as platinum group metals,are on the US government's list of critical minerals, announced Friday.

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The list, announced in the Federal Register, finalizes a draft list of 35minerals that was released in February in response to an executive orderissued last December regarding "A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure andReliable Supplies of Critical Minerals."

"The United States is heavily reliant on imports of certain mineralcommodities that are vital to the Nation's security and economic prosperity,"the Federal Register notice said.

"This dependency of the United States on foreign sources creates a strategicvulnerability for both its economy and military to adverse foreign governmentaction, natural disaster, and other events that can disrupt supply of thesekey minerals," it added.

After considering the 453 public comments received, the Department of theInterior "believes that the methodology used to draft the list remains validand hereby finalizes the draft list of 35 critical minerals," the notice said.

The final list includes: Aluminum (bauxite), antimony, arsenic, barite,beryllium, bismuth, cesium, chromium, cobalt, fluorspar, gallium, germanium,graphite (natural), hafnium, helium, indium, lithium, magnesium, manganese,niobium, platinum group metals, potash, the rare earth elements group,rhenium, rubidium, scandium, strontium, tantalum, tellurium, tin, titanium,tungsten, uranium, vanadium, and zirconium.

The comments included 147 requests to add a total of 13 minerals to the list,with seven minerals -- copper, silver, nickel, gold, zinc, molybdenum and lead-- each receiving over 10 requests for addition to the list, while there were183 requests to delete one mineral, uranium, from the list.

The list of critical minerals, while "final," is not a permanent list, "butwill be dynamic and updated periodically to reflect current data on supply,demand, and concentration of production, as well as current policypriorities," the notice said.

The list "provides a starting point for developing a new Federal strategy anda continuing process to strengthen supply chains," it said. This would include"efforts to assess potential domestic critical mineral resources above groundand below ground, and to examine Federal leasing and permitting processes toexpedite access to these potential resources."

The notice also acknowledged that Of the 35 minerals deemed critical, 12 arebyproducts.

"Therefore, strategies to increase the domestic supply of these commoditiesmust necessarily consider the mining and processing of the host materialsbecause enhanced recovery of byproducts alone may be insufficient to meet USconsumption," it said.

--Andy Blamey,

--Edited by Maurice Geller,