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article imageTrump orders boost in 'critical minerals' production in U.S.

By Karen Graham     Dec 20, 2017 in Politics
Washington - President Donald Trump on Wednesday ordered the government to boost the production of critical minerals used in the manufacture of everything from smartphones to wind farms and batteries.
In his executive order signed on Wednesday, December 20, 2017, Trump directed federal agencies to find ways to increase exploration, mining and processing of critical minerals and streamline permits for private mining companies.
“The comprehensive order aims to identify new sources of critical minerals, ensure miners and producers have access to the best data, and streamline the leasing and permitting process to expedite production, reprocessing and recycling of minerals at all levels of the supply chain,” according to a statement Wednesday from the White House.
The United States has been reliant China, Russia, and other nations for the majority of the rare earth or what the government is calling critical minerals, such as platinum, manganese, cobalt, lithium and several others. The president's order states that all but two of 23 minerals identified as critical are produced by other nations.
Pascua-Lama is an open-pit mining project of gold  silver  copper and other minerals located in the ...
Pascua-Lama is an open-pit mining project of gold, silver, copper and other minerals located in the Andes mountains, in the southern Atacama Desert, over the border between Chile and Argentina.
President Trump said that this order will reduce the nation's vulnerability to disruptions in the supply of critical minerals caused by hostile government actions, natural disaster or other events.
"The United States must not remain reliant on foreign competitors like Russia and China for the critical minerals needed to keep our economy strong and our country safe," he said.
The move could “open up new avenues of growth,” said Andrew Cosgrove, senior energy and mining analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. Companies may be less inclined to “seek out properties in foreign countries.”
The order directs Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to develop a strategy to reduce reliance on foreign minerals within six months. He shouldn't have too much trouble doing this because the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has identified high concentrations of rare earth elements (REE) in coal samples collected from several American coal basins.
Have you ever wondered where the cobalt in your Smartphone comes from? More often than not  from the...
Have you ever wondered where the cobalt in your Smartphone comes from? More often than not, from the Congo, with children as young as seven years old doing the mining.
University of California at Berkeley
Of particular interest in the executive order is the section that states: this will apply to all levels of the supply chain, including exploration, mining, concentration, separation, alloying, recycling, and reprocessing critical minerals. Just last week, Digital Journal reported on the 44.7 million metric tons (Mt) of e-waste generated globally in 2016.
The estimated value of recoverable materials in last year's e-waste was $64.6 billion (55 billion euros). While President Trump and Mr. Zinke may want to immediately start mining all our National Parks for rare earth minerals, they might want to check with Energy Secretary Rick Perry first.
And the government might also want to think about backing the technology needed to extract and recycle these minerals from discarded products. This is a more sensible plan.
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