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Professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction, this unique book reproduces important government documents, reports, and studies dealing with the subject of rare earth elements and minerals, vital to our modern industrial society.
What are REEs? REEs consist of 17 elements (metals) that have unique characteristics, such as magnetism, luminescence, and strength. They have a wide range of uses, including in many high technology industries and defense systems. Contrary to the name, rare earths are not "rare." Rather, they are relatively abundant in the earth's crust, but are highly scattered and usually found mixed together in other deposits. This makes it difficult to find REEs in a concentration high enough to be mined and separated economically. The United States was once a major producer of REEs from the mid-1960s until around the late 1980s when China became a major low-cost producer and exporter of REEs. This, among other factors, caused many U.S. REE miners and producers to withdraw from the market. REE Dependency on China - According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in 2018, China accounted for 71% (and possibly higher due to illegal mining, production, and smuggling in China) of global REE production in terms of quantity. Chinese data indicate that its REE exports totaled 53,518 metric tons, with a value of $517 million. China's top three REE exports markets by value were Japan (54% of total), the United States (14%), and the Netherlands (8%). China also exported $1.7 billion worth of magnets containing REEs (including $201 million to the United States), an indicator of the significance of Chinese downstream industries that utilize REEs.
The impact on the U.S. economy from possible Chinese punitive measures on REEs is hard to measure. REE export restrictions by China might cause the United States to seek alternative REE country sources, replacement metals, or greater use of recycling. Some analysts argue that the United States should seek public and private partnerships to develop its own domestic REE resources, including the development of downstream REE industries, in order to weaken China's near monopoly of REEs. However, it is unclear if such goals could be achieved relying on markets alone or whether they would rely on government support.
Should China attempt to restrict its REE exports to the United States, Congress might consider legislation to find alternative sources of REEs and products from downstream industries. In the 116th Congress, S. 1052 (Senator Manchin), would authorize the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy to develop advanced separation technologies for the extraction and recovery of rare earth elements and minerals from coal and coal byproducts.
Contents: Trade Dispute with China and Rare Earth Elements * Defense Primer: Acquiring Specialty Metals, Rare Earth Magnets, and Tungsten * Rare Earth Materials: Developing a Comprehensive Approach Could Help DOD Better Manage National Security Risks in the Supply Chain * Rare Earth Elements: The Global Supply Chain * China's Monopoly on Rare Earths: Implications for U.S. Foreign and Security Policy * 2019 U.S. Intelligence Community Worldwide Threat Assessment
This compilation includes a reproduction of the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community.