Department of Defense Requests Comments on Risks in Supply Chains For Strategic and Critical Materials

Today, the Department of Defense (“DoD”) published in the Federal Register a request for comments on risks in the supply chain for strategic and critical materials. DoD’s request stems from an Executive Order signed in February by President Biden, which directed the DoD and three other federal agencies to closely examine America’s supply chains in four critical industries. Additional information concerning President Biden’s executive order and requests for comments on the supply chains for semiconductors and advanced packaging and high-capacity batteries are available here and here.

DoD’s report will include an update to an ongoing inquiry initiated by President Trump at the end of last year concerning imports of “critical minerals,” which include the following 35 minerals as identified by the Department of the Interior:

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.

DoD’s request for comments will also focus on a broader range of critical materials so parties involved in defense-related supply chains with interests outside of the 35 identified critical minerals should consider submitting their views.

Like President Biden’s order, DoD’s request for comments signal’s a potentially broader approach to supply chains than the approach taken by President Trump. In particular, DoD is specifically requesting comments and information related to “diversifying sources of supply for strategic and critical materials, including domestic sources and foreign allies / partners.”

All members of the supply chain, including consumers and producers of both upstream and downstream products, are encouraged to participate. The deadline to file comments is Wednesday, April 28, 2021.