Background: Due to low prices and poor environmental laws, China was able to capture 97% of the rare earth mineral market . Recently, China restricted exports of Rare Earth elements . These elements are important for many advanced technologies including semi-conductors and advanced batteries. What China was allowed to do was to corner (hold a monopoly) on these critical elements. Without warning, exports were restricted driving up the costs in the process. This is but one example where the U.S. is not dependant on foreign suppliers that have manipulated prices after the competition was gone.
The U.S. needs to maintain a core set of industries that are crucial to our national defense. That China was allowed to corner the market on rare earth elements shows there are improvements that need to be made. Suggest the Government invest, manage, or sponsor competition for those industries that are critical to national defense. In addition to rare earth elements; energy, raw material, manufactured good, steel, and other industries should be examined. Allowing a U.S. industry to disappear due to unfair international trade; only to pay more down the road; is not in the best interest of the U.S.
1. Housley, Adam, Fox News, Mine in Mojave Desert May old Key to Beating China in the race for Raw Minerals, April 6, 2011.
2. Brown, Josh, Washington Times, U.S. urged to mine ‘rare earth’ minerals for high-tech devices, April 11, 2011.