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The directive comes a day after the U.S. Geological Survey published its first assessment of the country’s critical minerals resources since 1973, an analysis the agency began in 2013. The report concludes that 20 out of the 23 critical minerals the nation relies on are sourced from China.
“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,” Trump said in a statement.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who has backed expanded mining production on federal land, has lobbied the White House to make the issue of critical minerals a top policy priority. He briefed reporters on the new USGS report Tuesday, saying “we are vulnerable as a nation” because we rely so heavily on imports from China.
While the United States has significant deposits of most of the critical minerals it currently buys from overseas, market considerations largely drive mining. The United States was ranked as the world’s largest producer of such minerals until 1995, but since then, China has led the globe.
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