USA’s Lucky Rare Earth Number Is 3 (As In Section 303); According To Buddist Culture The Number 3 Represents ‘Praying’

US moves closer to rare earth supply chain for defense; Is It Enough? China Lucky Number 8 Stands Ahead of USA

Published date: 23 July 2019

US president Donald Trump has signed five memoranda establishing a requirement to fund the development of a US rare earth supply chain from ore to metal to magnet.

The memoranda were signed under the Defence Production Act, which includes a provision for the purchase of resources or critical technology to restore the domestic industrial base essential for national defence (Section 303). The five requirements are for US capacity to separate and process heavy rare earths, light rare earths, the production of neodymium-iron-born NdFeB magnets, samarium-cobalt magnets and rare earth metals and alloys.

Rising tensions between the US and China have focused attention on the US’ dependence on imports of rare earth products and permanent magnets that are critical to defence applications and aerospace.

China produces about 80pc of the total global supply of rare earth permanent magnets and rare earth materials. The US has no capacity to separate rare earths, produce metal, alloys or magnets, and it has just one producing mine, Mountain Pass in California, that exports its offtake.

There is no heavy rare earth separation capacity outside of China or production of samarium. There is commercial light rare earth separation capacity in France, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Vietnam and Malaysia, where Australian rare earth producer Lynas has the largest light rare earth separation plant in the world. Rare earth alloys are made in the UK, Vietnam and Japan, and rare earth permanent magnets are made in Germany and Japan.

“Section 303 clears the way for the administration to actually start funding projects in the near term that meet the production criteria,” Texas Mineral Resources chairman Anthony Marchese said. Texas Mineral Resources is developing the Round Top heavy rare earth project in Texas with USA Rare Earth. “Finally there is a path forward for the government to jumpstart a supply chain in the US,” he said.

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