Last week, the Department of the Interior released its finalized Critical Mineral list. In spite of calls to include various additional metals and minerals (see ARPN principal Daniel McGroarty’s public comments on the issue here) DOI decided to stick with its pool of 35 minerals deemed critical from a national security perspective.
“With the list completed, the executive order now gives Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross 180 days to submit a strategy to reduce that reliance. The report will explore various options: increased trade with allies, recycling and reprocessing technology, and potential alternative materials to replace critical minerals,” writes Greenwire reporter Dylan Brown, who gathered early stakeholder and expert feedback for a piece published on Friday (subscription).
Brown says that Commerce Secretary Wilbur’s report will, among other issues, zero in on what he calls the “No. 1 policy debate between the mining industry and environmentalists, and their Republican and Democratic allies in Congress” – the debate over how to reform the United States’ permitting framework for mining projects.
Brown quotes National Mining Association spokeswoman Caitlin Musseman, who said:
“More than a complex listing process, we need a simplified and efficient permitting system that unlocks the value of all our domestic mineral resources,” and argues that the list does not go far enough because of DOI’s “narrow view of criticality.”
The piece also quotes ARPN’s Dan McGroarty, who, citing the example of Copper, underscored the importance and interrelationship of Gateway Metals and their Co-Products:
“American Resources Policy Network President Daniel McGroarty pointed to copper, a ‘gateway’ to five minerals on the critical list.
‘The U.S. has a 600,000-metric-ton copper gap each year — the gap between what we consume and what we produce,’ he said. ‘The critical minerals list is a great starting point. The question now is how the U.S. government can match policy to the priority of overcoming our critical minerals deficit.”
In the coming months, policymakers have the opportunity to shape mineral resource policy for the better – and to create a framework conducive to safely and efficiently harnessing our mineral resource potential to ensure our national security and competitiveness going forward.
Here’s hoping they seize the momentum the recent increased focus on ‘critical minerals’ has generated.