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ICYMI: WSJ: Marco Rubio Introduces a Bill to Boost the U.S. Rare Earth Industry

Jul 11, 2019 | Comunicados de Prensa

Marco Rubio Introduces a Bill to Boost the U.S. Rare Earth Industry
By Timothy Puko
July 11, 2019
Wall Street Journal
Press Release/Bill Text
Legislation aimed at making the U.S. more competitive with China for processing critical rare-earth minerals is set to be introduced in Congress on Thursday.
The bill by Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), would allow investors to form a cooperative that is exempt from antitrust laws, in an attempt to shield it from government-backed competition from China and volatile markets that have made it virtually nonexistent in the U.S. The Secretary of Commerce would secure a charter for the business, though it would need to be privately funded and operated under the terms of the legislation.
Rare earths are critical to making parts in high-tech applications including military equipment, parts almost exclusively supplied by China. One American mine recently restarted production and Mr. Rubio’s legislation aims to help develop a U.S.-based industry for turning those raw materials into alloys, magnets and other products.
In a statement, Mr. Rubio said the Chinese government has subsidized its industry, causing “a market failure” that has hurt rare-earth development in the U.S. and elsewhere.
“Continued U.S. dependence on China for the mining and processing of rare earths and the manufacture of those metals into useful products is untenable—it threatens our national security, limits our economic productivity and robs working-class Americans of future opportunities for dignified work,” he said.
The bill’s aim is to give companies that need rare-earths-based products a vehicle to process alloys and manufacture parts in the U.S. at cost by allowing the co-op’s owners to split the profits. That could limit risk for end-users so they can invest in and develop a more secure U.S.-based supply chain.

In May Chinese President Xi Jinpingtoured a region of China that calls itself a rare-earths kingdom with his top trade negotiator. Many, including Mr. Rubio, saw that as a signal China would consider instituting an export embargo to gain leverage in trade talks.
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