According to a recent announcement from NEMA, the trade group has joined other international trade associations in a November 3 letter calling on Group of 20 leaders to “find pragmatic solutions and sustainable short-term solutions for a stable and secure” supply of rare earth elements. In the U.S., a rare earth minerals supply shortage would threaten the clean energy industry, as well as the telecommunications and defense sectors, according to testimony at a March hearing, Rare Earth Minerals and 21st Century Industry.
Between 2005 and 2008, 91% of U.S. consumption of rare earths came from China and 9% from other sources, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. But China is now reducing exports of rare earth materials and working to leverage its deposits to bring manufacturing of high-value-added products containing rare earths to China's Inner Mongolia region. The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) continues to investigate China's export restrictions on rare earth elements and the Department of Energy is preparing a strategic policy document on critical materials for energy applications. USTR and the Department of Commerce are preparing a December 17 dialogue with European Union officials on rare earth issues and a possible common approach under the umbrella of the Transatlantic Economic Council. For more information, visit nema.org and science.house.gov.