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

New York — US President Donald Trump signed Wednesday an executive order fordeveloping a federal strategy that ensures "secure and reliable supplies" ofcritical minerals.

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Inked amid growing concern about reliance on imports, the order aims toreduce "this dependency of the United States on foreign sources," for mineralssuch as cobalt, graphite, lithium and others.

The executive order, in fact, was signed a day after the US Department ofthe Interior and the US Geological Survey issued a comprehensive reportshowing that the US is "100% foreign-reliant on 20 minerals," and that "rareearth minerals are produced almost exclusively in China." The report identified 23 of the minerals that the Interior Departmentsays are most-needed to sustain the national defense and economy "and are usedin manufacturing everything from batteries and computer chips to equipmentused 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, titaniumand vanadium.

In addition to China, many of these minerals are sourced from Russia,South Africa, Brazil and Canada.

"Despite the presence of significant deposits of some of these mineralsacross the United States, our miners and producers are currently limited by alack of comprehensive, machine-readable data concerning topographical,geological, and geophysical surveys; permitting delays; and the potential forprotracted litigation regarding permits that are issued," noted the executiveorder.

A final list of the critical minerals must be published in the FederalRegister not more than 60 days after the executive order. Then, within 180days after that, a report must be submitted to the president with a strategyto reduce US reliance on such imported minerals.

--Joe Innace, joseph.innace@spglobal.com

--Edited by Alisdair Bowles, alisdair.bowles@spglobal.com