Donald Trump to expand rare earths mining, citing China threat

Donald Trump to expand rare earths mining, citing China threat

  • US president signs executive order declaring national emergency in industry, seeking to explore use of Defence Production Act to speed up development of mines
  • China accounted for 80 per cent of total US imports of rare earth compounds and metals last year

US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order aimed at expanding domestic production of rare earth minerals that are vital to many critical manufacturing sectors, reducing dependence on China.

The order, which declares a national emergency in the mining industry, directs the Interior Department to explore using the Defence Production Act to hasten the development of mines. The administration has previously used the law to accelerate production of medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic.

The president’s actions are a direct consequence of China’s dominance of the sector for decades, said Gavin Wendt, a senior resource analyst at MineLife Pty. Previously, “the West was happy to be supplied with cheap rare earths from China, with China bearing the environmental consequences”, he said.

Critical minerals have been a focus in the US as China accounted for 80 per cent of total US imports of rare earth compounds and metals last year.