Prompted by a worldwide chip shortage already impacting automobile production, President Biden in February signed an executive order directing a 100-day broad review of supply chains for critical materials for semiconductors and large-capacity batteries, including rare-earth elements. It builds on analyses, reports and executive orders initiated several years ago by the Trump Administration.
The stark truth that this review should highlight is that the U.S. and its Western allies have been left behind at the starting gate in a race only China seems to have realized was taking place.
The Chinese began building their now-dominant supply chain decades ago. The U.S. has been 100% net import reliant on rare-earth elements, with 80 percent of those imports sourced from China.
Technology metals consultant Jack Lipton has described five steps in a total rare-earth supply chain. Mining comes first, followed by extraction of the rare-earths from mining concentrates and preparation of clean, pre-PLS (pregnant leach solution) mixed rare-earths products.
(Actually, there is another step that precedes mining, at least in Western countries – gaining permission to mine – and it is often the most difficult and most time-consuming step of all.)
For the rest of this column: https://townhall.com/columnists/dugganflanakin/2021/05/26/a-viable-alternative-to-chinese-minerals-hegemony-n2589980