Op-ed: Rare-Earth Mining: A National Security Imperative

Posted on May 21, 2019 by Minerals Make Life

On April 30, the Department of Defense (DoD) published a new interim rule that will prohibit contractors from importing certain high-powered rare-earth and tungsten components produced in North Korea, China, Russia, and Iran for use in DoD systems. The rule is vital to securing our defense industrial base and has been sorely needed for some time.

Among the covered minerals in the rule, samarium-cobalt and neodymium-iron-boron magnets are critical for many defense systems including aircraft engines, radar, sonar, and guidance systems. Additionally, tungsten is widely used in defense applications, including armor and armor-piercing munitions. That the U.S. ever came to be reliant upon non-allied countries for the supply of such sensitive components is almost inconceivable, and it’s created significant strategic vulnerabilities that our adversaries surely will exploit when the time comes.

Given rising tensions around the globe, Congress rightly understood that U.S. control over the supply of crucial defense components was key to our national security. In time, the FY19 National Defense Authorization Act and 10 U.S.C. 2533c, where the rule is codified, will stimulate demand for American mineral suppliers and specialized manufacturers. This is an initial step towards revitalizing our industrial base that had been hollowed out by post-Cold War downsizing and unfair trade policies that favored subsidized foreign minerals.

Read the full op-ed here.

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