US confirms list of 35 key minerals, targets domestic supply boost

(Image of the Yeelirrie uranium deposit courtesy of Cameco)

TORONTO, May 18 (Reuters) – Uranium and key rechargeable battery metals lithium and cobalt are on a final list of 35 critical minerals that the United States deems essential to its economic and national security and wants to produce more of domestically.

The Department of Commerce will use the list, which was published by the Interior Department on Friday and which confirms a draft issued in February, for a report that responds to a December presidential order to break U.S. dependence on foreign minerals.

The Trump administration wants to identify new domestic sources of critical minerals; increase domestic exploration, mining and recycling; give miners and producers electronic access to better mapping and geological data; and streamline leasing and permitting for new mines.

The list, which also includes aluminum bauxite, platinum group metals, and potash, will periodically be updated for changes in policy, supply, demand and concentration of production, the Interior Department said.

“The United States is heavily reliant on imports of certain mineral commodities that are vital to the nation’s security and economic prosperity,” said Tim Petty, assistant secretary of the Interior for water and science.

“This dependency of the United States on foreign sources creates a strategic vulnerability for both its economy and military to adverse foreign government action, natural disaster, and other events that can disrupt supply of these key minerals.”

The draft list drew 453 public comments, including 147 requests to add minerals, such as copper, nickel and silver, and 183 requests to delete uranium.

The full list of minerals is here

(Reporting by Susan Taylor; Editing by Frances Kerry)