14 hours ago
Rare Earth Minerals and National Security
Among the most important minerals in the production of national defense technologies are rare earth minerals. Rare earth minerals are 17 metals that, contrary to their name, are unique but not necessarily scarce. Rather, due to their similar properties, rare earth metals are often found in the same deposits, and separating and processing them is a complex and expensive process. In addition, rare earth minerals are exceptionally difficult to mine because they are dispersed and not often found in concentrated and commercially viable quantities.
As of now, China is the largest global provider of rare earth elements, and the United States currently relies on it for 92 percent of the rare earth materials essential in the creation of national defense equipment like satellite surveillance, night vision goggles and communication equipment. While we are currently importing $6.9 billion worth of mineral materials from other countries, we have allowed $6.2 trillion worth of key minerals, including rare earth elements, within our borders to remain untouched.
The United States needs to create and promote policies that allow us to mine the domestic minerals needed to make American-made national defense equipment. We cannot continue to be vulnerable to political maneuvering or natural disasters that can disrupt supply from foreign sources. We must ensure a steady access to minerals so our military is prepared to respond to global threats at a moment’s notice.