Wednesday, December 11, 2019

U.S. Army Is Investing In A Rare Earths Production Plant

In a photo taken on June 29, 2015, a piece of ore containing rare earths is shown during a tour of a California mine.PHOTO: REUTERS

Reuters: Exclusive: U.S. Army will fund rare earths plant for weapons development

(Reuters) - The U.S. Army plans to fund construction of rare earths processing facilities, part of an urgent push by Washington to secure domestic supply of the minerals used to make military weapons and electronics, according to a government document seen by Reuters.

The move would mark the first financial investment by the U.S. military into commercial-scale rare earths production since World War Two’s Manhattan Project built the first atomic bomb.

It comes after President Donald Trump earlier this year ordered the military to update its supply chain for the niche materials, warning that reliance on other nations for the strategic minerals could hamper U.S. defenses.

China, which refines most of the world’s rare earths, has threatened to stop exporting the specialized minerals to the United States, using its monopoly as a cudgel in the ongoing trade spat between the world’s two largest economies.

Read more ....

Update: Army investing in rare earths production: report (The Hill)

WNU Editor: Electronics need rare earths to work .... especially in advanced weapon systems and communications. I am surprised that it has taken the US this long to address this vulnerability.

1 comment:

Bob Huntley said...

I believe that in view of the relatively small amount of RARE deposit in the US it was the old 'use other countries' resources and save ours for the future' strategy that has kept the US from developing RARE processing facilities. That and an inability in the past to actually master the beast.

I suspect China had held off placing an embargo on sales of refined RARE to the US as doing so might influence that very decision as per the article and kill that market for China.

I understand the US currently sends around 90 million tons of the material to China per year to be refined, so that would stop too once the US has developed the capability.

The massive RARE discovery in Afghanistan might have some impact as well.

It will be interesting to see how China reacts to this news.