- China has threatened to stop rare earth mineral exports to the U.S., which are 17 elements mined from the Earth’s crust that are used in electronics, automobile motors, defense systems, clean energy and more.
- A ban could have an adverse, far-reaching effect on these industries and most importantly could affect the systems the U.S. relies on for national security.
- This latest ban is part of the back-and-forth trade war that has been escalating between the U.S. and China for some time.
- However, the Pentagon gave a report to Congress on reducing dependency on China for the minerals.
- China has the most rare earth reserves in the world at about 35% and last year, the country produced about 70% of the world’s rare earth minerals.
- The U.S. mines about 15,000 metric tons of rare earths annually while China mines about 120,000 metric tons each year.
- Additionally, the U.S. has about 1.4 million metric tons of reserves compared to China’s 44 million.
- According to the United States Geological Survey, “U.S. consumption of rare earth compounds and metals relies heavily on imports, which rose to $160 million in 2018.”
- Per a Goldman Sachs analyst: “The U.S.′ reliance on Chinese supply may be higher than the import breakdown data suggest on the surface.”