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US Congress targets Chinese rare earths imports

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas (Getty Images file photo))

A bipartisan bill in the US Congress has aimed to stop the import of strategic Chinese rare earth metals to the country. 

The bill was proposed in Congress on Friday by Senators Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, and Mark Kelly, an Arizona Democrat. 

Known as the Restoring Essential Energy and Security Holdings Onshore for Rare Earths Act of 2022, the bill aims to pave the way for the Pentagon to stockpile the rare earth minerals with the aim of  ensuring that the United States would never run short of the strategic material which has both military and commercial usages.

Rare earth elements are "used in everything from batteries to fighter jets," Cotton said in the statement.

“Ending American dependence on China for rare earths extraction and processing is critical to building up the US defense and technology sectors,” Cotton said in an interview.

The bill aims to "protect America from the threat of rare earth element supply disruptions, encourage domestic production of those elements, and reduce our reliance on China", the statement said.

"Our bipartisan bill will strengthen America's position as a global leader in technology by reducing our country's reliance on adversaries like China for rare earth elements," Kelly said in the statement.

The law would require the departments of the Interior and Defense to create a "strategic reserve" of rare earth minerals by 2025.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), China has some of the largest deposits of rare earth metals with 44 million tons of reserves.

Eighty percent of the United States' rare earth imports in 2019 were from China, while Australia, the second and only other major producer of rare earth, had only an estimated 15 percent of world production.

 

 


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