On November 18, the United States and Australia formalized their partnership on developing both nations’ critical mineral assets by signing a project agreement between Geoscience Australia CEO James Johnson and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Director Jim Reilly. The two partners outlined specific steps to strengthen an existing Memorandum of Understanding by collaborating on research and increasing critical mineral capacity for both countries.

“Today’s commitment is an important next step in accomplishing the goals of the Trump administration’s strategy to secure the supply of minerals critical to our national security and economic growth,” Reilly said. “We are grateful for the strong partnership we continue to enjoy with our Australian counterparts.”

Critical minerals are used in nearly all economic sectors for a range of products, including mobile phones, electronics, batteries, fiber optics, steelmaking, military gear and medical equipment.

The new activities will focus on joint critical mineral potential mapping and quantitative mineral assessments; determining geological controls on critical mineral distribution; and developing data analytics capability to understand supply and demand scenarios for developing critical minerals trade between the two countries.

“This is a partnership that will deliver opportunity and security to both nations,” Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said. “Growing global demand for critical minerals means there is huge scope for Australia to develop secure and stable supply chains to meet the growing demand for critical minerals in key economies such as the U.S.”

These research priorities and international cooperation are both significant aspects of the United States’ Federal Strategy to Ensure a Reliable Supply of Critical Minerals, which the Trump administration published in June. It directs the USGS to explore international partnerships with close allies and partners to learn more about how those countries study their critical minerals and what lessons the United States could take from them.

“The U.S. has a need for critical minerals and Australia’s abundant supplies makes us a reliable and secure international supplier of a wide range of those, including rare earth elements,” Canavan said.