According to a newspaper reports of a (long-overdue) seven-page DoD report titled “Rare Earth Materials in Defense Applications,” sent to Congress last month and which has not yet been made public, “domestic rare earth supplies will meet the U.S. defense industry’s needs by 2013 for the materials that go into military motors and electronics” – a somewhat baffling assessment considering the utility of the minerals and the current rare earths supply shortage.
The response by several industry experts, as cited by the Pittsburgh Tribune, is therefore less surprising. According to the Tribune, Ed Richardson, President of the U.S. Magnetic Materials Association, considers the Pentagon’s view to be “rather naïve” and “ill-informed. ” Meanwhile Jack Lifton, co-founder of Technology Metals Research, called the report: “so lame I can’t believe it,” adding that “the only way we can get that material right now is from a foreign company in China.”
Industry experts, including American Resources’ latest addition to our expert panel Jeffery Green, President and Founder of J.A. Green & Company, and Founder of the Strategic Materials Advisory Council point to particularly severe challenges associated with heavy rare earths, including dysprosium, as almost all new rare earths mining operations outside of China are focused on light rare earths.
While striking a more subtle tone than industry experts, we think Congressman Mike Coffman (R, Colo.) hits the nail on the head with his response to the Pentagon’s report:
China still controls the production of rare earth materials. Our long term economic security absolutely depends on being able to establish a domestic supply chain, but despite recent efforts, the U.S. has been unable to. I think the Department of Defense would be wiser to begin addressing this problem, instead of claiming everything is under control.