Pentagon Urges Congress to Allow Funding of Rare Earths & Mineral Processing in UK, Australia

© AFP 2022 / -Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP Billiton's Mount Newman iron ore mine in Western Australia (File)
Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP Billiton's Mount Newman iron ore mine in Western Australia (File) - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.05.2022
The US has lost its mining and processing dominance over past decades. China remains the world's largest producer of the strategic materials needed to produce consumer electronics and a spate of weapons.
The US Department of Defence (DoD) has urged Congress to allow the Pentagon to fund strategic mineral processing facilities in Australia and the UK. The minerals can be used to make weapons and electric vehicles.
The DoD argued that Congress greenlighting the Pentagon’s funding would “allow the US government to leverage the resources of its closest allies to enrich US manufacturing and industrial base capabilities and increase the nation's advantage in an environment of great competition”.
The Pentagon added that relying on domestic or Canadian sources “unnecessarily constrains” the Cold War-era Defence Production Act (DPA) programme's ability to “ensure a robust industrial base”.
Official residence of the U.S. President, the White House in Washington D.C. - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.07.2020
US Government Invokes Defence Act to Safeguard Rare Earths, Magnets Production
The request is part of the DoD’s recommendations to Congress on how to hammer out the US military funding bill, known as the National Defence Authorization Act, which is due to be finalised later this year.
This comes as part of Washington’s efforts to reduce its dependence on Beijing for the use of lithium and other rare minerals used in a range of advanced technologies.
The current law prevents DPA funds from being used to dig new mines, but allows them to be allocated for processing equipment, feasibility studies and upgrades to existing facilities. At the moment, only the US- and Canada-based facilities are eligible for DPA funding.
The US used to be a leader in the processing of rare earths, but ceded the throne to China in the 1980s, which now controls most of the market. Beijing previously blocked exports of rare metals, which are essential for modern technologies, as it acted against Japan in 2019, but warned it could do the same to the US.
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