Weaning U.S. Off Chinese Rare Earths Involves Supply-Chain Perks



Joe Deaux | Bloomberg

The only U.S. producer of rare earths says the Biden administration needs to focus on giving incentives to producers of the building blocks that will drive electrification.

Biden’s gargantuan $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan currently targets about $15 billion to build a network of vehicle-charging stations and $100 billion in rebates to electric-car buyers. The flaw is that the program doesn’t wean the U.S. off its dependency on China for critical minerals used in electric vehicles, wind turbines and other green-energy infrastructure, said MP Materials Corp. Chief Executive James Litinsky.

Rare earths are a group of 17 elements crucial to high-tech products from computer hard drives to mobile phones to missile-guidance systems. China has dominated worldwide production of the minerals for more than a decade, according to the American Geosciences Institute.

The shift away from fossil fuels will take enormous amounts of rare earths as well as copper, lithium and cobalt to meet Biden’s 2050 target for being carbon neutral, and the U.S. doesn’t produce enough satisfy those needs. The International Energy Agency this week released a bombshell report recommending Western governments consider stockpiling critical battery metals because of the geopolitical risks to those supplies.

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