Romney, Colleagues Urge Administration to Designate Copper as a Critical Mineral in Interest of National Security

Senators wrote U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland highlighting the economic, environmental, and national security benefits of adding copper to official critical minerals list

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) joined a bipartisan letter, led by Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), urging U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to designate copper as an official U.S. Geological Survey Critical Mineral, emphasizing new analysis, and its well-documented importance to national security, water infrastructure, electrical and clean energy infrastructure, and more. Joining Romney and Sinema on the letter are Senators Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Mike Braun (R-IN), Joe Manchin(D-WV), and Raphael Warnock (D-GA).

“By recognizing copper as a ‘critical mineral,’ the United States’ federal government can more effectively ensure a secure and reliable supply of domestic copper resources in the years to come at all points of the supply chain including recycling, mining, and processing. Given the enormous investment required, the time lag for new sources of supply, and projected demand, time is of the essence,” the senators wrote in their letter.

The letter builds on Senator Romney’s efforts to decrease our dependence on foreign adversaries like China when it comes to our critical mineral supply.

Romney recently introduced the Critical Mineral Independence Act of 2022, legislation to help ensure that the U.S. secures critical mineral independence from China. His legislation directs the expansion of critical mineral mining and processing in the U.S. and allied countries to achieve critical mineral supply chain independence for the Department of Defense by 2027.

As a part of the 2023 NDAA, the Senate passed Romney’s Strategic EV Management Act, which will ensure that government agencies are properly using and recycling batteries from the federal fleet of electric vehicles. Properly recycling EV batteries can help recover valuable minerals like cobalt that are essential to the production of these batteries, but are often sourced from entities with ties to foreign adversaries like the Chinese government.


  • Recognizing copper as a critical mineral would allow the U.S. government to more effectively ensure a secure and reliable supply of domestic copper resources in the years to come. 
  • Recently, the Copper Development Association found that copper’s increased supply risk surpasses the U.S. Geological Survey threshold necessary to be added to the official critical minerals list. In their letter to Secretary Haaland, the senators highlighted that the Copper Development Association report indicates the supply risk shows no signs of slowing down.
  • A new methodology that calculates supply risk using economic vulnerability, disruption potential, and trade exposure of various minerals found that the risk to copper imports, particularly from adversarial countries like Russia and China, has only increased in recent years.