The Pentagon says U.S., the offer of U.S. rare earths will meet the needs of defense industry

The Pentagon says U.S., the offer of U.S. rare earths will meet the needs of defense industry

The debate over the deficit of rare earths was, after the last report by the Pentagon to Congress, discussed again. The results reported, that the U.S. domestic supply of rare earths the needs of the U.S. defense industry by the year 2013 be sufficient to meet. The report was in relation to the needs of the rare earth element (SEE) for military vehicles, Electronics and equipment, including smart bombs, Laser guidance systems, and night vision devices released (The Institute for Rare earth und Metalle berichtete). This report falls within a period, in the industry's attention on the upcoming World Trade Organization (WTO) Investigation, addressed in China's rare earth export restrictions. President Obama's administration, the European Union and Japan encouraged, together to attack China's export policy, restricts the rare earths exports to the West.

Application for investigation

In 2011 asked the Congress by the Pentagon, to investigate certain aspects of the dependence of the defense sector of the rare earth elements. The studies included a fundamental analysis on the use of rare earth elements into materials for military applications and proposals, to ensure long-term availability, and policies for hedging, a secure source of supply to 2015 represent. The unpublished seven-page report, titled “Rare Earth Materials in Defense Applications”, was sent to Congress last month. According to the report the rare earth elements widely used in military applications, however, provide the armaments only a small fraction of U.S. consumer spending is. The needs of the country could be largely met by domestic suppliers. The ever-increasing U.S. supplies of rare earths is increasingly able, correspond to the consumption of the defense industry.

The response from the Pentagon

In an email to the media said Cheryl Irwin, a Pentagon spokeswoman, that the rare earth elements are important for the overall economy and not just isolated to the Department of Defense. The Pentagon oversee the markets and prices of rare earth elements and other important raw materials also. According to the report, are of the seventeen rare earth elements, the following six elements to a great extent important for the defense: Dysprosium, Erbium, Europium, Gadolinium, Neodymium and Praseodymium. The report continues, that the element yttrium'''', It is mostly used in lasers, also in 2013 is a scarce commodity. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, China produced in 2011 about 98 Percent of the world delivered yttrium.

Criticism of the results

Although it lasted over a year to create report, are some industry experts do not agree with the results. After Ed Richardson, Präsident der US-Magnetic Materials Association, and an expert on rare earth elements is the view “rather naive” and ill-informed. He noted, that, Even if U.S. miners would find enough dysprosium and neodymium to produce, on military-grade magnets, authorities, does not the U.S. on the production capacities, to separate the raw materials and to refine. "There are no companies in the United States, currently have the know-how”, he said. In an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune declared Richardson and other experts, that China and Japan are currently refining the control of rare earth. This would be for the next few years, the case, he added. To get in the future of the critical elements of rare earths, must be a Kooperationsweg be sought with the Chinese. The U.S. would be in this case, the petitioners would have the Chinese and with courtesy and kindness rather than meet them to be sued in the WTO. Jack Lifton, Co-founder of Technology Metals Research, a company in the U.S., which deals with the rare earths, claimed the only way, how we could get the SEE in the future, is the co-operation with the Chinese. In the same discussion, rejected the consultant for rare earths, Jeff Green, in Washington darauf hin, that although several mining companies outside China, have discovered new deposits of rare earths and also partially begun to reduce, However, the limited in almost all rare earths only to the Light.

Emergency Plans

Brett Lambert, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, responsible for the policies of the manufacturing industry, responded to the criticism: He stressed, that the Department of Defense, In the event of a shortage of rare earth elements would intervene accordingly. He said in an interview, “If we would see restrictions, we are via activation of different measures, including the emergency Agreement” think. This agreement allows the emergency U.S. defense industry, To purchase the limited materials on behalf of the Pentagon. Lambert's gab, that the current consumption of rare earth materials in the U.S. defense industry, accounted for less than five percent of the national annual consumption is. In addition, there was even at the height of the Chinese export restrictions in 2010, no evidence, that the defense companies were faced with a shortage.

He points to the global market as a future source of REE and explained, that the development of producers like Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP) in the U.S. and Lynas Corp. (ASX: LYC) Australia runs a very positive. The report reflects the prognosis of the Pentagon again, that factors, such as increased mining capacity outside of China, falling prices for rare earths since the mid 2011 and lower forecasts for consumption in the Western world, all factors are, the more stable a market to SEE 2015 will lead.


The gap, close to the West needs is less to be found in the exploration of rare earths, but rather in search of the know-how, as the heavy rare earths are separated from their substrate. With the acquisition of Neo Materials has the U.S. company for U.S. $ Molycorp 1,3 Billion. im April 2012 the know-how purchased, the heavy rare earths to separate from the substrate material. Neo Materials is the only Western company, under the then leadership of Alastair Neill, a refinery north of Shanghai, for the separation of Light and heavy rare earth elements built. Alastair Neill is now working for another U.S. company in the field of rare earths, die Firma Black Sea Metals Inc. (NASDAQ: BLAK). This has recently announced, that they would build a refinery with the same construction in Shanghai in the Asian part of Turkey.

Each month, the rest of the world moves China in the race closer to the knowledge about the rare earths. Thus the U.S. is trying, and the EU to sue in the trade dispute with China before the WTO (world trade organisation), To gain time. Thus, only the United States at the time of 2007 to date 73 Trade investigations against China conducted. China defended on the other side with arguments such as: The growing environmental awareness of Chinese people is contrary to an increase in production of rare earths, or the increasing demand of China for rare earth presents the personal use of the Export.

But on the other hand, more and more high-tech products on the market, the increasingly rare earths need. Unfortunately, these are the most difficult to be obtained HREE (Heavy Rare Earth Elements = heavy rare earths). More and better-resolution LCD screens, more effective working windmills, Solar Panels, electric motors, Computer, Smartphones etc. drive the consumption of rare earths to be gaining momentum. If, as it is expected, China in the next five years from the SE to SE importer exporter longer walk, a supply gap is inevitable, despite rising production in the West.

Read the press release in PDF format

Those: Institute of Rare Earth Elements and Metals e.V. / A.U.

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