In 2018, the U.S. government determined a list of 35 critical minerals that were deemed:

  • Essential to the economy and defense of the U.S.
  • Vulnerable to supply chain disruption.
  • To serve an essential role in manufacturing goods important to the economy or national security.

These critical minerals were identified as materials that are essential for the U.S., whether for economic or defense reasons, but may create a dependence on a foreign source. For example, aluminum, which is one of the 35 critical minerals, has key uses across almost all American industries, but more than half the aluminum in the world is produced in China.

What Is on the Critical Minerals List?

Some of the critical minerals on the list include:

  • Aluminum
  • Arsenic
  • Cobalt
  • Lithium
  • Rubidium
  • Tin
  • Titanium

The U.S. has no domestic production for 14 of the critical minerals, and imports more than half the annual consumption of 31 of the 35 minerals on the full list, which can be found here.

Critical Minerals Requirements for Companies

After identifying critical minerals in a product, companies will need to trace the material through the supply chain to determine if it originates from China or another foreign adversary. This becomes more difficult the closer to extraction an investigation leads. Ore from several countries is oftentimes refined together, making it difficult to determine the complete makeup of refined material. As China is rich in mineral deposits, there is a large probability that refined critical minerals contain ore sourced, at least in part, from China. To address this requirement, companies will need to survey their supply chain to identify if these materials are in products, classify them, and determine their origin.

Critical Minerals in the News

On September 30, 2020, the U.S. government declared a state of emergency through Executive Order 13817 to address an overreliance on foreign adversaries for critical minerals necessary to the economy and national security.

The order, issued by President Donald Trump, establishes a set of actions and timelines that could lead to lasting impacts on companies doing business in the U.S. Corporations that use critical minerals in the U.S. should monitor any regulatory impacts that stem from this executive order.

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