The Trump administration has issued a presidential executive order tasked with ensuring secure and reliable supplies of critical materials through increased private-sector exploration, production, recycling and processing as well as supporting research on technological alternatives for such materials.

A draft list of critical minerals was published on 16 February in accordance with the original order which lists tin as critical alongside 34 other mineral and mineral material groups. The Department of the Interior (DOI) is accepting comments on the draft list until 19 March.

The executive order states that within 6 months of publication of the draft list the Secretary of the Interior must submit a report to the President with a strategy to reduce the USA’s reliance on critical minerals. This will assess the progress of developments in recycling technology and of substitute materials. The report will also include options for accessing and developing alternative supplies of critical minerals through increased investment and trade with allies and partners.

Our view: The USA remains highly dependent on imports of refined tin. The USGS reporting no refined tin production domestically and net imports of 30,800 tonnes of refined tin in 2017. Tin deposits are scarce in North America and so any action to incentivise domestic sources of supply is likely to focus on supporting tin recycling. The executive order carries some risk for tin consumption should it lead to the development of technological alternatives, although substitution opportunities in major applications for tin use such as solder are very limited. An increase in tin held by the US Strategic stockpile is a possibility. The US could also potentially decide to invest in sources of tin supply located in partner countries around the world.