WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States needs to encourage domestic production of a handful of minerals critical for the technology and defense industries, and stem reliance on China, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said on Tuesday.
Zinke made the remarks at the Interior Department as he unveiled a report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which detailed the extent to which the United States is dependent upon foreign competitors for its supply of certain minerals.
The report identified 23 out of 88 minerals that are priorities for U.S. national defense and the economy because they are components in products ranging from batteries to military equipment.
The report found that the United States was 100 percent net import reliant on 20 mineral commodities in 2016, including manganese, niobium, tantalum and others. In 1954, the U.S. was 100 percent import reliant for the supply of just eight nonfuel mineral commodities.
“We have the minerals here and likely we have enough to provide our needs and be a world trader in them, but we have to go forward and identify where they are at,” Zinke told reporters at an Interior Department briefing.