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US needs more domestic mining according to Pentagon official

October 20, 2021

Growing demand for critical minerals and strained supply chains that risk the United States’ access to minerals is a growing concern for the U.S. Department of Defense. Speaking at the Adamas Intelligence North American Critical Minerals Days conference, Danielle Miller of the Pentagon's Office of Industrial Policy said the United States and its ally nations should mine and process more rare earths to ensure adequate global supply of the strategic minerals for military and commercial uses.

“We know we cannot resolve our shared exposure to supply chain risk without a close partnership with industry,” said Miller.

The remarks underscore the Pentagon's rising interest in public-private mining partnerships to counter China's status as the top global producer of rare earths.

“New primary production of strategic and critical minerals - in a word, mining - is a necessity to increase resilience in global supply chains,” said Miller.

Reuters reported that Miller cited recent investments in U.S. rare earth projects under development by MP Materials Corp., Urban Mining Co, and a joint venture of Australia's Lynas Rare Earths Ltd/ and Blue Line Corp as evidence of the Pentagon's desire to be a “patient, strategic investor” in private industry.

“Domestic production of strategic and critical materials is the ultimate hedge against the risk of deliberate non-market interference in extended overseas supply chains,” Miller said.

China has hinted in the past that it might curtail the export of rare earth minerals to the United States.

"We are under no illusions about the competing pressures facing" the U.S. mining industry.

Miller also said the Pentagon wants to help mining companies in ally nations “create a common understanding of sustainability,” U.S. environmental standards for mining are among the tightest in the world.

“We want to work with (miners) to accelerate the transition from the lowest cost, technically acceptable sourcing, to one that reflects our values,” Miller said.
 

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