Strategic and Critical Materials Stock Piling Act

Last updated: 31 October 2022

In 1939, the United States Congress enacted the Strategic and Critical Materials Stock Piling Act, a federal law providing for the acquisition and retention of stocks of certain strategic and critical materials that supply the military, industrial and essential civilian needs of the United States for national defense.

Acknowledging the United States’ reliance on foreign resources and lack of national production, the aim of this Act is to tackle the risks of supply chain disruption that could occur in times of national emergency. Recognising that critical minerals are central to many types of modern military equipment and at high risk of supply chain disruption, the Act authorises stockpiling of these minerals. The stockpile is not to be used for economic or budgetary purposes but only in the interest of national defense. The content of the stockpile should be determined on a regular basis by the President, and its current content is undisclosed. In addition to the process of stockpiling, the development of domestic sources of materials is encouraged under the act, to further decrease risks.

Decisions related to the transfers, management and acquisitions of the stockpile’s content lie mostly in the hands of the President, and to a smaller extent in those of the Secretary of Defense (transfers, disposal) and US Congress (mandatory notifications when the President wishes to perform any change).

The government announced in 2021 plans to recapitalise and restore the National Defense Stockpile of critical minerals and materials, following findings from the reviews directed under Executive Order 14017. In March 2022, the Departments of Energy, State and Defense executed a memorandum of agreement to launch an effort to include critical minerals necessary for the transition to clean energy alongside those needed for defense purposes. The memorandum created a new, interagency process for stockpiling minerals that enables vital clean energy technologies. Furthermore, sourcing for the stockpile would aim to help spur demand for responsibly sourced and sustainably processed minerals. 

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