Rare minerals.. US efforts to reduce dependence on China

The quantities of rare metals that the United States imported from China in 2019 constituted 80% of the total American imports of these materials.

On Friday, two US senators – one Republican and one Democrat – introduced a bill aimed at reducing the United States’ dependence on China to supply it with rare earths essential to manufacture advanced technologies.

“Ending America’s dependence on the Chinese Communist Party for the extraction and processing of these materials is essential if we are to win the strategic competition against China and protect our national security,” Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, said in a statement.

Rare metals are a group of minerals important for the manufacture of a number of devices, smartphones, electric cars and weapons.

The quantities of rare minerals that the United States imported from China in 2019 accounted for 80% of the total US imports of these materials, according to the US Geological Survey.

According to the statement, the bill, presented by Tom Cotton and Mark Kelly, a Democratic senator from Arizona, aims to protect America from the threat of supply disruptions in rare metals and encourage their manufacture in the United States.

The bill stipulates that the Ministries of Defense and the Interior create a strategic reserve of rare earths by 2025, sufficient to meet the needs of the army, the technology sector and other basic infrastructure for a year in the event of a supply chain disruption.

Senator Mark Kelly emphasized that “the bipartisan bill would strengthen the United States’ position as a global technology leader by reducing our dependence on adversaries such as China for rare earths.”

According to the US Geological Survey, China has the most important rare earth mineral fields with reserves of 44 million tons of these minerals and enjoys suitable extraction conditions and less stringent environmental standards.

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