Exclusive: Pentagon halts rare earths funding program pending ‘further research’ – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters U.S. – May 22, 2020)


HOUSTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Defense last month reversed its decision to fund two projects to process rare earth minerals for military weapons, one of which has controversial ties to China, according to a government document seen by Reuters and three sources familiar with the matter.

The Pentagon decision is a step backward for President Donald Trump’s plan to redevelop the U.S. rare earths supply chain and reduce reliance on China, the world’s largest producer of the strategic minerals used to build a range of weapons.

Australia’s Lynas Corp (LYC.AX) and privately held U.S. firm MP Materials both said on April 22 they had been awarded funding by the Pentagon for rare earths separation facilities in Texas and California, respectively.

Reuters reported the same day that a Chinese company’s minority stake in MP Materials, which owns the only U.S. rare earths mine, has prompted concerns from scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Later that week, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and five other senators sent a letter to the Pentagon pushing it to only fund U.S. rare earth projects.

For the rest of this article: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-rareearths-exclusive-idUSKBN22Y1VC

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