Earlier this year, the Pentagon held talks with several rare earth miners around the world, as part of its plans to reduce US reliance on Chinese supplies of crucial minerals.
Reuters has cited a US government document as saying that the country’s military intends to invest in the construction of rare earths processing facilities in America.
The investment is part of Washington’s drive to promote a domestic supply of the niche minerals, which are specifically used to make weaponry.
“The US rare earths industry needs big help to compete against the Chinese. It’s not just about the money, but also the optics of broad support from Washington,” according to Jim McKenzie, CEO of UCore Rare Metals Inc (UCU.V), which is developing a rare earths project in Alaska.
Reuters also cited unnamed industry officials as saying that the price tag of a rare earth processing pilot plant could stand at between $5 million and $20 million, with the construction of a full-fledged scale factory possibly costing more than $100 million.
The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Centre and the US Army headquarters have yet to comment on the matter.
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