China Exploring Export Curbs On Rare Earth Minerals In A Bid To Target US Defence Manufacturers: Report

China Exploring Export Curbs On Rare Earth Minerals In A Bid To Target US Defence Manufacturers: Report Chinese President Xi Jinping.

China is exploring ways to curb the exports of rare earth minerals that are critical to US defence contractors such as Lockheed Martin Corp for the manufacture of sophisticated weaponry and F-35 fighter jets, Financial Times reported.

"The government wants to know if the US may have trouble making F-35 fighter jets if China imposes an export ban," the FT reported quoting a Chinese government adviser.

Rare earth elements are composed of 17 minerals critical to the defence industry’s manufacturing of missiles and munitions, hyper-sonic weapons, and radiation-hardened electronics — as well as consumer electronics like cellphones.

Rare earth elements include ytterbium (used in TVs, computer screens and cancer drugs) and praseodymium (used in magnets and to strengthen metal for aircraft engines).

The US currently imports 80 per cent of rate earthy elements directly from China, with portions of the remainder indirectly sourced from China through other countries. For instance China produces around two-thirds of the world’s lithium-ion batteries and has build complex supply link linkages to secure critical metals from Africa and Latin America.

As a part of an effort to break the stranglehold of China on rare earth elements critical to electronics and national defence sector, the then US President Donald Trump last year signed an executive order declaring a national emergency in the mining industry.

The order aims to boost domestic production of rare earth minerals critical for military and electronics related technologies while reducing the country’s dependence on China.