OPINION: Risky rocks: Open up US mines or let China control strategic minerals – by Mark J. Perry (Washington Examiner – December 4, 2018)


It is time to recognize that the United States will benefit economically and politically by ending our reliance on imports of strategically important minerals needed for weapons systems and an array of high-tech consumer products ranging from lithium-ion EV batteries to cellphones and flat-screen televisions.

The political and economic costs of foreign minerals dependency are far too high, particularly in a period of intense trade competition with China, the world’s No. 1 supplier of minerals. Instead, we should strengthen our own domestic mining capability.

Meaningful legislation to address the problem is needed before the situation gets much worse. The real danger is not that the cost of minerals commodities could get out of hand (last year the U.S. spent more than $7 billion on imports of minerals and metals), but rather that U.S. mines that are essential to our nation’s well-being are closing.

A study by the U.S. Geological Survey shows that dependence on minerals from abroad has doubled in the last 20 years, and we are now 100 percent import-dependent on 20 key minerals that are crucial in the manufacture of jet fighter engines, antimissile defense systems, night-vision goggles, and smart bombs, among other advanced weapons systems.

China is our leading supplier for some critically important minerals such as gallium, bismuth, and rare earths — and that’s disturbing for several reasons, one of which is that trade relations with China are strained and hawkish elements in China are anxious to challenge the U.S. They did so in 2010 when, in an effort to gain geopolitical leverage, China restricted the export of rare earths, forcing prices for the minerals to increase by 300 percent.

For the rest of this article: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/risky-rocks-open-up-us-mines-or-let-china-control-strategic-minerals

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