Pentagon Says US Rare Earth Supplies Will Meet Defense Needs
By Adam Currie — Exclusive to Rare Earth Investing News

Pentagon Says US Rare Earth Supplies Will Meet Defense Needs

Debate has once again been rife in the rare earth sector following the Pentagon's recen t report to Congress, which stated that US domestic rare earth supplies will sufficiently meet the US defense industry's needs by 2013.

The report was released in reference to rare earth element (REE) needs for military vehicles, electronics, and equipment, including smart bombs, laser guidance systems, and night-vision devices.

The move comes at a time when the market has once again cast its attention on the upcoming World Trade Organization (WTO) investigation into China's rare earth export restrictions. President Obama's administration has joined the European Union and Japan in challenging China's export policy, which places limits on rare earth exports.

Examination request

In 2011, Congress called upon the Pentagon to examine certain aspects of the defense sector's reliance on REEs. Examinations included an in-depth analysis of the use of rare earth materials in defense applications, suggestions on how to ensure long-term availability, as well as methods for securing an assured source of supply by 2015.

The unpublished seven-page report, titled "Rare Earth Materials in Defense Applications," was sent to Congress last month. According to the report, REEs are “ widely used” in defense applications, but overall the commodities “represent a small fraction of US consumption,” and the country's needs can largely be met by domestic suppliers.

"The growing US supply of these materials is increasingly capable of meeting the consumption of the defense industrial base," said the report, which has been circulated to select members of Congress.

Pentagon response

In an email to media sources, Cheryl Irwin, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said REEs “are important to the economy as a whole, but they are not uniquely important” to the Defense Department.