The US Commerce Department has warned that any halt to China’s rare earth exports would cause “significant shocks” to US and foreign supply chains, following the Chinese government’s statement that they could cut off supplies of the precious minerals to the US due to the still unresolved trade war, said the Financial Times.
The commerce department said the US is “heavily dependent” on foreign sources of the minerals, which makes the country vulnerable to actions by foreign governments. The department said the US should streamline the permitting process for domestic mining and boost efforts to recycle critical minerals as part of a strategy to boost domestic production.
The statement, which was released on Tuesday, comes after warnings by China that it would place controls on its exports of rare earths, 17 elements critical to electronics and electric cars. China produces over 80% of the world’s rare earths, as well as a majority of the products that use them such as powerful magnets used in electric and hybrid cars.