U.S. Security Think Tank Urges Feds to Form REE Strategy


"Report highlights 'second-biggest deposit of REEs in the world.'"

A report by the think tank the American Security Project has urged U.S. policymakers to develop a coherent, long-term strategy to reduce U.S. dependence on rare earth metals from China.

The report by American Security Project Research Assistant, Emily Coppel, released Tuesday, noted the United States has the "second-biggest deposit of rare earth minerals in the world. North American mines alone could supply U.S. rare earth needs."

"The U.S. will need to develop new technologies and invest in mining operations to solve the long-term supply problem," Coppel suggested. "In the short-term, stockpiling rare earths metals is one of the best ways to prepare for a future shortage until these new mines and technologies become available."

The report also asserts that the first nation or defense company which is able to develop "an effective and reliable substitute for rare earths" or "new and more efficient technologies" will gain a competitive advantage.

"This is one area where the U.S. has a significant advantage, having the most robust defense industry in the world," the report noted.

Coppel suggested the U.S. has gone from being the world's top producer to being completely dependent to China for its REE supply.

"China's dominance in the rare earths market will have profound implications for U.S. national security in the next couple of years," she said. "As it is, some analysts already believe it is too late to avoid a global shortage of rare earth metals, placing the U.S. in great risk. The U.S. needs to take steps to remedy this situation."

Noting the possibility that a shortage of rare earth metals could occur as early as 2012 or by 2014, the American Security Project advises, "This makes U.S. dependence on China for rare earths extremely problematic."

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