New York: The US initiative to dismantle the Chinese domination in ‘Rare Earth Minerals’, necessary for high-tech and defence sectors, is gaining success. The United States had focussed on locating new reserves and building new processing facilities to increase the production of rare earth minerals. Nine countries, including Brazil and Australia, have consented to the scheme.
In June, the US Department of Defence had briefed the US Congress on a report on rare earths. The report listed various possibilities, options and proposals on rare earth minerals. Also, it had suggested that additional funding would be required to avoid shortage of the rare earth materials in the United States and the concerned companies should thus be instructed to create emergency stocks for the critical supplies. At the same time, the report suggests exploring other alternatives apart from China for its rare earth supply and taking rapid steps to meet the demand.
The US Department of State as also other agencies have taken the initiative and commenced talks with various countries on the matter. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US efforts were successful. Australia, Brazil, Botswana, Peru, Argentina, DR Congo, Namibia, the Philippines and Zambia have agreed to join the US in the rare earth initiative.
“The United States will make available advanced technology and all the necessary assistance to the countries. Furthermore, the nations will be provided help to discover and develop the minerals such as Lithium, Cobalt and Copper, Secretary of State Pompeo said. Sources stated that the US Secretary of State has already held discussions with all the countries consenting for the rare earth initiative. Additionally, Canada would join the scheme as well in due course of time, and a Canadian company has even shown interest in investing in the United States.
China is known as the largest manufacturer of rare earth minerals, which is essential for smartphones, computers and electric cars. A group of 17 elements are recognised collectively as Rare Earth Minerals, and China is estimated to have 30% of the world’s total deposits roughly. The country also produces a whopping 95% of the world’s rare earth supplies. What’s more, the US relies on China for 80% of its rare earth imports.
Until now, China has effectively used its clout due to its dominance in the sector. The country had forced the United States and Japan, which have adopted an aggressive stance against it, to take cognisance of the matter by indicating to stop the supply of rare earth minerals. Nevertheless, US President Trump has now prioritised the issue concerning the rare earth materials and has accepted a clear policy of no compromise on it in view of the US national security.
The US preparations are underway for providing assistance to the companies operating in the sector in the United States for building additional processing facilities. Although if China decides to stop the supply of rare earth minerals to the United States using it as its ultimate weapon, the defence and technology sectors in the United States may probably face severe hardships. Amid the trade and investment wars with China, President Trump nevertheless appears to have made intense preparations to blunt down the weapon of rare earth minerals that may be used by China.