US bill would block defense companies from using Chinese rare earths | High resolution stock photo | CLIPARTO POLITICAL NEWS

A bipartisan legislation to be introduced in the U.S. Senate would force defense contractors to stop buying rare earth in China By 2026, and use the Pentagon to build permanent reserves of strategic minerals.

The bill, sponsored by Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton and Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, is expected to be introduced on Friday, according to Reuters.It’s the latest in a series of legislation the US is trying to block China’s near-total control over the sector.

it essentially uses Pentagon buys billions of dollars Using fighter jets, missiles and other weapons as leverage to require contractors to stop relying on China to support a recovery in U.S. rare earth production.

Rare earth is A set of 17 metals After processing, it is used to make magnets in electric vehicles, weapons and electronics. While the U.S. created the industry in World War II and U.S. military scientists developed the most widely used rare-earth magnets, over the past 30 years, China has slowly grown to nearly control the industry.

America only a rare earth mine No ability to process rare earth minerals. The United States relies on China for about 80 percent of its rare earth imports.

December, China Merged several major producers Create a behemoth to tighten its grip on a global industry it has dominated for decades.

The new entity China Rare Earth Group will Speed ​​up mine development In the south of the country, state media reported.

“Ending America’s reliance on China for rare earth mining and processing is critical to building the U.S. defense and technology sector,” Cotton told Reuters.

The senator, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence Committee, described China’s evolution Seeing the global rare earth leader as “just a policy choice made by the United States”, adding that he hoped the new policy would ease Beijing’s grip.

In the past, the U.S. has worked with other countries in the World Trade Organization to try to coerce China export more rare earths amid global shortages.

The bill, dubbed the Onshore Essential Energy and Security Holdings for Rare Earth Restoration Act of 2022, would codify and make permanent the Pentagon’s ongoing storage of materials.China temporarily locks down Rare earth exports A vague threat was made to Japan in 2010, and it may do the same with the United States.

However, in order to build this reserve, Pentagon buys supply Partly from China, Senate staff hope the paradox will be eased in time.

File Image: Rare Earths in China/Third PartyWorkers transport soil containing rare earth elements for export at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China, in 2010 [File: Stringer/Reuters]

Rare Earths Production process can be highly polluting, in part because it became unpopular in the United States. Ongoing research attempts to make the process cleaner.

Cotton said he had spoken to a number of U.S. enforcement agencies about the bill, but declined to say whether President Joe Biden or the White House.

“This is an area Congress will lead because many members have been focusing on this topic regardless of party,” he said.

Sponsors expect the bill, which could be incorporated into Pentagon funding legislation later this year, does not provide direct support for the nascent U.S. rare earths industry.

Instead, it requires Pentagon contractors to stop using Chinese rare earths within four years, allowing exemptions only in rare cases. defense contractor Will be required to immediately state where they sourced the minerals.

The requirements “should encourage more domestic [rare-earths] The development of our country,” Cotton said.

US-China tensions

Over the past two years, the Pentagon has provided grants to companies trying to revive U.S. rare earth processing and magnet production, including MP Materials Corp, Australia Lynas Rare Earth Pty Ltd, TDA Magnetics Inc and Urban Mining Co.

Kelly, a former astronaut and a member of the Senate Armed Services and Energy Committees, said the bill should “strengthen America’s position as a global technology leader by reducing our nation’s dependence on rare earth elements on adversaries such as China.”

US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping hold virtual meetingTensions between the U.S. and China have been escalating, with the U.S. desire to expand its domestic rare earth industry seen as part of a broader geopolitical conflict [File: Tingshu Wang/Reuters]

The bill only applies to weapons, not other equipment US military purchase.

In addition, the U.S. Trade Representative will be asked to investigate whether China is distorting the rare earth market and recommend whether trade sanctions is needed.

Asked whether such a move would be viewed as hostile by Beijing, Cotton said: “I don’t think the answer to Chinese aggression or the Chinese threat is not to continue to expose ourselves to the Chinese threat.”