U.S. military invests in rare earth defense against China

The US military plans to fund the construction of rare earth processing facilities to ensure the supply of rare earth raw materials and products in the United States. It is reported that this is the first time that the U.S. military has made financial investments in commercial-scale rare earth production since the first atomic bomb was planned to be manufactured in Manhattan during World War II. In the past year, from Australia, Canada to Mongolia, the United States has searched for new rare earth suppliers or alternatives all over the world, but found almost nothing. Since the United States launched a trade war against China, the United States has been worried about being countered by China, and rare earths are considered to be a counter-attack for Chinese countermeasures. The United States often uses its own hegemony to impose sanctions and blockades on other countries. Today, it is clearly a guilty conscience. However, a November report from the Chinese government agency showed that China in 2019

Instead, the total amount of rare earth mining and processing has increased. Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recently stated clearly that China is willing to meet the legitimate needs of the development of countries around the world with rare earth resources and products.

The U.S. military personally launched

According to a report by Reuters on the 11th, according to a US government document seen by the agency, the U.S. military plans to provide funding for the construction of rare earth processing facilities in order to ensure the domestic supply of domestic rare earths used to manufacture military weapons and electronic products. Reports say the plan is part of an emergency operation in Washington. Earlier this year, Trump ordered the U.S. military to rebuild the industrial supply chain for this rare material, and he warned that relying on other countries to provide these strategic materials could threaten US security.

According to reports, the U.S. military plans to provide the company that builds a rare earth refinery with two-thirds of the total cost of funding, and at least one project will be financed, and more projects may be financed in the future. Prior to the Army’s move, the U.S. military surveyed the state of the United States’ rare earth supply chain earlier this year. Industry insiders point out that the cost of building a pilot rare-earth processing plant ranges between $ 5 million and $ 20 million, depending on site selection, scale, and other factors. The potential cost of building a comprehensive processing plant can exceed $ 100 million. McKenzie, CEO of Ucor Rare Metals, which currently mines rare earths in Alaska, said: “The United States’ rare earth industry needs strong government support to compete with China. This is not just a question of money. It also requires comprehensive support from Washington. “Support,” said Markesi, CEO of Texas Mineral Resources. “This time it is no longer funding a research, but to rebuild the rare earth supply chain in the United States.”

The United States and Latin America have not been very successful in establishing a “rare earth alliance”

The processed products of rare earths are indispensable materials for manufacturing precision guided missiles, smart bombs and fighter aircraft and other high-end electronic products. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) said that China ’s mining of rare earth minerals accounts for 70% of the world ’s total. In 2018, 90% of the world ’s rare earth processing production was completed in China. Therefore, as the United States wages a trade war with China and gradually escalates, it has been worried that China might use the rare earth strategy to let go.

Since the beginning of this year, the US State Department, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Commerce have sent delegations to Canada, Australia, Mongolia, and many African countries to contact and build rare-earth mining processing plants. In May of this year, Australia’s largest rare earth mine Linus announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Texas Blue Line Chemical Company of the United States to establish a rare earth processing plant in the United States. In July, U.S. Senator Rubio, known as the “Anti-China Vanguard”, proposed the establishment of a “rare earth alliance” that is not bound by the “Antitrust Law.” At the end of July, Trump met with Mongolian President Bartulga in Washington, and the two sides discussed US mining investment in Mongolia, including rare earths. In September, the Australian government released a report that it plans to promote 15 rare earth and key mining projects across Australia, with a total development cost of 5.7 billion Australian dollars. The Financial Times said that Trump had proposed to buy Greenland not long ago. Although the idea seemed ridiculous, the United States was actually targeting resources there, especially rare earth deposits.

A Chinese expert, who asked not to be named, said in an interview with a Global Times reporter on the 12th that the United States is looking for rare earth suppliers and alternatives all over the world, but now it has to turn its eyes to China, indicating that the United States is trying to build a global “rare earth The “alliance” was not successful because such an alliance was only a “political alliance” and was constrained by many factors such as resources and technology. Even if it is completed, it will be more than a decade later. Far from hydrolyzing can not be near thirsty.

“China’s Foresight and Foresight”

Although the United States and the West are worried that China may restrict or even halt the export of rare earths as a means of retaliation for trade wars, China has not only reduced the production and export of rare earths, but has also increased quotas. In mid-November, a report from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China showed that China’s mining quota for rare earth ore in 2019 was 132,000 tons, a record high for two consecutive years. The total smelting and processing of rare earth products also increased by 10% from 2018 to 127,000 tons.

Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told a news conference not long ago that China is the world ’s largest rare earth reserve country and the largest producer. China has always adhered to the principle of openness, synergy and sharing to promote the development of China’s rare earth industry. We are willing to use rare earth resources and products to meet the legitimate needs of the development of countries around the world and play an active role in promoting the development of the world economy. Geng Shuang said that in the era of globalization, global industrial chains are closely connected, dominating or monopolizing a certain field or market, or artificially cutting off or excluding a certain chain of links, is not feasible.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, according to the US Geological Survey, China’s rare earth reserves account for only 36% of the world’s known reserves, but China’s rare earth processing output accounts for 70% of the world’s. It is reported that this is because the rare earth is different from gold, coal, iron and other resources. The rare earth can not be used simply after being excavated from the ground. It is often associated with many other elements. In order to obtain higher purity rare earth products, the most important thing is the refining and separation technology, and a large amount of toxic wastewater, waste gas and useless tailings will be produced during the production process. The report quoted Dudley, a professor at the Western Australian Institute of Mining, as saying, “It is very difficult for the United States and Australia to compete with China. China not only has rare earth resources, but also has excellent (rare earth extraction and separation) technology.”

The British “Financial Times” said that in terms of rare earth products, the world is currently unlikely to avoid dependence on China. Anderson, an expert at the University of Aalborg, Denmark, said: “In refining and converting rare earth minerals into commercial products, Chinese companies are considered to be leaders in this complex technology field, and China is the largest market. Therefore, it is difficult to imagine the complete Chinese technology An excluded project will succeed. ”

“China’s long-term plan and long-term consideration for increasing rare earth production.” The Nihon Keizai Shimbun said that before that, the Chinese government had once restrained domestic rare earth production from the perspective of protecting “strategic resources” and the environment. Now that China is expanding its rare earth production quotas and increasing supplies, the world is relieved. But at the same time, this also has a negative impact on the United States to build a rare earth industrial chain outside China.

While increasing rare earth production, China is also increasing imports of foreign rare earth deposits. “Nihon Keizai Shimbun” said that China’s imports of rare earths in 2018 soared to almost three times in 2017, while the United States has become a mineral supplier. Mountain Pass operates the only rare earth mine in the United States. This year, the company has doubled its mining volume to more than 30,000 tons, accounting for 15% of global production. However, Mountain Pass’s rare earth ore has to be shipped to China for processing.

Russian satellite news network quoted scholars as saying that rare earth is an indispensable raw material for the manufacture of electronic products. In today’s globalization, China will not easily use rare earth as a tool for revenge. Otherwise, it will not only damage China’s image, but also damage the global supply chain and be detrimental to China. It is reported that because rare earth resources are available in Australia, Mongolia and the United States itself, if China restricts the production and export of rare earths, it will only cause China to lose its leading position in this market. On the contrary, China’s expansion of production will help strengthen China’s position in the global rare earth supply chain. More crucially, expanding rare earth production can better meet China’s domestic demand. In the high-tech fields such as telecommunications, information networks, integrated circuits, chips, aircraft engines, new materials, and new energy, rare earths are the key raw materials for all these industries. China’s expansion of rare earth production will enable it to maintain its world-leading position in the production and processing of this precious resource and in the competition in the high-tech industry.