Rare earths are a set of 17 elements at the bottom of the periodic table used in a variety of renewable energy and defense applications, including precision guided munitions, wind turbines, unmanned aerial vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and tactical wheeled vehicles. The U.S. has been unable to produce viable alternatives to rare earths, making continued access critical to national security.
China dominates all aspects of the rare earth supply chain, producing roughly 94% of all rare earth oxides consumed worldwide, nearly 100% of commercial rare earth metal, and the majority of rare earth alloy and magnets. It has embargoed neighboring countries over economic disputes, imposed restrictive export policies, and controlled industry exploration, mining, and production. The Chinese have acquired foreign rare earth companies and relocated their operations to China to further consolidate supply.
Addressing H.R. 4402
Addressing the FY13 NDAA.