On Tuesday, June 4, the U.S. Department of Commerce released the “interagency report that was submitted to the President pursuant to Executive Order 13817, A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals.”
The report, which, according to the agency’s official announcement, “contains a government-wide action plan, including recommendations to advance research and development efforts, increase domestic activity across the supply chain, streamline permitting, and grow the American critical minerals workforce,” comes at a critical juncture in time.
Only hours before the Commerce Department report release, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) had announced it is studying proposals to impose export controls on rare earth elements to “protect and better use such ‘strategic resource.’”
The recent escalation of U.S.-Chinese trade tensions, along with growing concerns over mineral resource supply chains for the EV and energy storage sectors are shining a light on the United States’ over-reliance on foreign sources for our critical mineral needs – which Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ak) has called our nation’s “Achilles heel.”
Important first steps towards a comprehensive mineral resource strategy, which our country has been lacking, were made with Executive Order 13817, A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals, in December of 2017, and the release of a list of 35 metals and minerals deemed critical from an economic and national security perspective, but most subsequent legislative efforts to reduce our foreign mineral dependencies faltered in 2018.
Says Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on the release of the new report:
“These critical minerals are often overlooked but modern life without them would be impossible. Through the recommendations detailed in this report, the Federal government will take unprecedented action to ensure that the United States will not be cut off from these vital materials.”
Here’s hoping the report does not fall on deaf ears and helps generate new momentum to secure our nation’s critical mineral needs.