Senate bill aims to boost strategic metals
Metal Tech News - December 8, 2022
Last updated 4/16/2023 at 6:57am
Senators Sullivan, Romney introduce bill to reduce DoD overreliance on China for minerals critical to security.
Concerned that America is too reliant on China for the minerals and metals critical to national defense and energy security, U.S. senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) have introduced the Critical Mineral Independence Act of 2022 – legislation aimed at bolstering critical minerals production in the United States and allied countries.
Over the past five decades, the U.S. has become increasingly reliant on imports from foreign nations for its supply of minerals and metals. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, America is more than 50% import reliant on 47 mined commodities, including 100% for 17 of them.
The majority of America's mineral imports come from China, which controls much of the global mining and processing of minerals critical to digital technologies, clean energy, and military hardware.
"We put our national security and economic vitality at risk when we rely on countries like China for critical minerals," said Romney. "Rapid, strategic investments by the U.S. and its allies in the mining and processing of critical minerals are needed to meet the security challenges we face today."
Romney and Sullivan said the U.S. cannot afford to allow the critical minerals used by the Department of Defense to be mined or processed in adversarial countries and must urgently invest and build its capabilities to achieve critical mineral independence in coordination with allies.
"We cannot continue to be dependent on China for critical minerals-resources that are crucial to our economy, and which we have in abundance in the U.S., particularly in Alaska like the significant copper and zinc resources in the Ambler Mining District that the Biden administration-remarkably-continues to delay," Sullivan said. "If we are going to build out and support our domestic clean energy industries and national security initiatives, we need to get serious about a strategy for unleashing America's national supply chains and processing capabilities. In doing so, we will create thousands of good-paying jobs, protect our national security interests, deny economic support for violators of basic human rights and build out America's all-of-the-above energy sector."
The pair of Republican senators said the Pentagon must work with U.S. allies immediately to have sufficient independence of critical minerals to successfully implement the 2022 National Defense Strategy, which is primarily focused on the need to sustain and strengthen U.S. deterrence against China.
Collaborating with a growing network of U.S. allies and partners on shared objectives is one of the primary tactics outlined in the public version of the National Defense Strategy published by DoD in October.
The Pentagon has roughly $1 billion available under the National Defense Authorization Act for obtaining the materials it needs to meet the objective detailed in this strategy.
Sullivan and Romney's Critical Mineral Independence Act of 2022 requires the director of the Defense Logistics Agency to develop a strategy to expedite critical mineral mining and processing, and then requires the implementation of that strategy to secure the minerals and metals needed to meet any national security threats on the horizon.
"These mining and processing investments will also help bolster our domestic critical mineral capabilities, where minerals like copper, lithium, and cobalt are essential components in everything from batteries and computers to electric vehicles and satellites," said Romney. "China's rise in power is aided by its monopolization of raw materials and the U.S. must secure critical mineral independence to bolster our security."