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Mine Risk Management > Politics

"Problem is we can't fix the problem if we don't know where the minerals are"

Miners in search of critical minerals such as cobalt in the US can expect a smoother path, after president Donald Trump signed an executive order calling for streamlined permitting and recommendations to increase the discovery and production of critical minerals.

Staff reporter

Mine Risk Management > Politics

"Problem is we can't fix the problem if we don't know where the minerals are"

Miners in search of critical minerals such as cobalt in the US can expect a smoother path, after president Donald Trump signed an executive order calling for streamlined permitting and recommendations to increase the discovery and production of critical minerals.

Staff reporter

"Problem is we can't fix the problem if we don't know where the minerals are"

US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke signs the order

Image: Tami Heilemann, DOI

He signed the order just prior to Christmas in the wake of a report by the US Department of the Interior's (DOI) US Geological Survey, which found the country was heavily dependent on imports for 23 mineral commodities deemed critical to the US' economy and security.

The USGS report was an update to a much-earlier report released in 1973.

"Despite the presence of significant deposits of some of these minerals across the United States, our miners and producers are currently limited by a lack of comprehensive, machine-readable data concerning topographical, geological, and geophysical surveys; permitting delays; and the potential for protracted litigation regarding permits that are issued," Trump said.

His order called for a report on a federal critical mineral strategy within six months, along with recommendations to streamline permitting and review processes related to developing leases; enhancing access to critical mineral resources; and increasing discovery, production, and domestic refining of critical minerals.

US secretary of the interior Ryan Zinke then signed a secretarial order, directing steps to produce the first nationwide geological and topographical survey in modern history, and to identify immediate domestic sources for critical minerals.

"Right now the US is almost completely reliant on foreign adversaries and competitors for many of the minerals that are deemed critical for our national and economic security," Zinke said.

"The problem is we can't fix the problem if we don't know where the minerals are within our own boarders [sic]."

Canadian junior VanadiumCorp Resource (CN:VRB) was quick to respond to the news, pointing out it had a vanadium-titanium-iron resource in Quebec, Canada, and was developing a new chemical process with Electrochem to recover critical metals such as vanadium and titanium.

The USGS report said the US was wholly dependent on imports to meet its needs for some of the 23 commodities, including graphite, manganese, niobium and tantalum.

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