Defense Department Seeks Comments on Supply Chain Risks for Critical Materials

April 15, 2021 by TWN Staff
Green light reflection from a low-oxygen environment 3D printer laser deposition of metal powder alloys. Photo courtesy of The Critical Materials Institute, Ames Laboratory

WASHINGTON – The Defense Department is seeking comments on risks to the supply chain for strategic and critical materials.

In February, President Joe Biden signed an executive order directing the Defense Department and three other federal agencies to closely examine America’s supply chains in four critical industries.  

Insights gathered through the request for comment, published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, will be used to update an ongoing inquiry into the imports of “critical materials” initiated by former President Donald Trump in the last weeks of his presidency.

The Interior Department has identified 35 minerals belonging to this group of materials.

They 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, the rare earth elements group, rhenium, rubidium, scandium, strontium, tantalum, tellurium, tin, titanium, tungsten, uranium, vanadium, and zirconium.

Like President Biden’s order, the Defense Department’s request for comments signals a potentially broader approach to supply chains than the approach taken by President Trump. 

For instance, the Defense Department is specifically requesting comments and information related to “diversifying sources of supply for strategic and critical materials, including domestic sources and foreign allies/partners.”

And in the end it asks anyone involved in defense-related supply chains to submit their views on how to “reimagine” a more secure and sustainable critical materials supply chain.

 The deadline to file comments is Wednesday, April 28, 2021.

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