US seeks to boost local production of 35 minerals

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Africa’s mineral export will be hit very soon as the United States plans to boost domestic production of 35 critical minerals including uranium, cobalt and lithium, in  pursuance of President Donald Trump’s America First policy.

The US said the 35 minerals are  critical materials used in basic manufacturing, batteries and electronics.

In the full list are:  Aluminum (bauxite), antimony, arsenic, barite, beryllium, bismuth, cesium, chromium, cobalt, fluorspar, gallium, germanium, graphite (natural), hafnium, helium, indium, lithium, magnesium, manganese, niobium, platinum group metals, potash, rare earth elements group, rhenium, rubidium, scandium, strontium, tantalum, tellurium, tin, titanium, tungsten, uranium, vanadium, and zirconium.

In trying to boost domestic production, America’s aim is to reduce its reliance on foreign suppliers, the Interior Department said on Friday.

The move echoes America’s ramping up of shale oil production during Barack Obama’s era that broke OPEC’s control of the crude oil market and depressed prices.

It was the department’s first step to carry out a December presidential order to break U.S. dependence on foreign minerals.

Lithium and cobalt are vital components of the rechargeable batteries that power electric vehicles. Battery makers and auto companies such as Tesla Inc and Volkswagen AG have been hunting for long-term supplies of the minerals.

“Any shortage of these resources constitutes a strategic vulnerability for the security and prosperity of the United States,” said Tim Petty, assistant secretary of the Interior for water and science.

The 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.

It will be challenging to boost U.S. production of potash, used to make fertilizer for farmers, said Canada’s Nutrien Ltd, North America’s largest potash producer.

“There’s just not reserves that are economic in the United States, but there are lots in Canada,” said spokesman Richard Downey.

“I think that the U.S. recognises that it’s a critical nutrient for corn and grain farmers, in particular, and they need access to the Canadian potash.”

The department seeks public comment until March 19.

Raising U.S. output of non-fuel minerals and fossil fuel resources is part of the Trump administration’s America First policy, aimed at boosting U.S. exports while curbing imports using tariffs and other protectionist measures.

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