US Commerce Department offers solution for obtaining minerals critical to the military

Rare earth China

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China produced about 71% of the world's output a year ago, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The dollar value of this resource in U.S.'s huge trade deficit with China is significant totaling to about $175 million.

The DLA, which buys, stores and ships much of the Pentagon's supplies - ranging from minerals to airplane parts to zippers for uniforms - has also held talks with Burundi's Rainbow Rare Earths Ltd about future supply, as well as offered to introduce the several U.S. rare earth projects under development with potential financiers, Nie said. It has a near-monopoly on global rare earths production.

The world's largest rare-earth producer outside of China will prioritise the U.S. military's needs when it starts production at a plant it's building in Texas, the company's chief executive officer said. Given its indispensability, newspaper sources and officials in China reported about the likely possibility of their country restricting the supply of this critical resource to the U.S. Though no official announcement of any sort in this context was made by Chinese officials several veiled references were hinted.

"We never want our customers to maintain a relationship with another supplier".

"We can make connections", he said.

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During the initial phase of expansion to rare earth mineral processing, Blue Line expected to focus on the separation of terbium (used in solid-state devices), dysprosium (used in magnets and lasers), and other heavy rare-earth.

The report, A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals, follows a number of American initiatives including the formal classification of 35 critical minerals and a Secretary of Defense study released last September.

The focus of the trade war has shifted to technology as US has barred companies in their country from undertaking sale of components to Chinese tech giant Huawei alongside objecting to China's intention of becoming a key high tech player. Rainbow Rare Earths began operating in Burundi in 2017 and has an offtake agreement with ThyssenKrupp AG.

The report also recommends the USA expand public-private partnerships to spur investment from industry, and that the country focus on expanding domestic production of critical minerals to break its import reliance.

Privately held MP Materials, which owns the Mountain Pass mine in California, aims to open a processing facility by next year.

It also called for closer cooperation with allies such as Japan, Australia and the European Union, and directed reviews of government permitting processes to speed up domestic mining.

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