The U.S. depends on China for more than half of the minerals and metals deemed critically important for our nation’s economic health and military readiness. While China has made mineral production and processing a strategic priority, the U.S. has done the reverse. Mining in the U.S. has been pushed to the margins.
As recently as the 1990s, the U.S. was the world’s largest producer of rare earth minerals. Today we have just one rare earth mine remaining and the U.S. must ship its ore to China for processing. Demand for rare earths is massive and growing. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology says a wind turbine rated at 3.5 megawatts of electricity contains 1,300 pounds of rare earths.