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Rubio, Warner Lead Push to Support Critical Mineral Projects
In response to China’s continued dominance of the critical mineral supply chain, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) led a group of bipartisan colleagues in a call for action to secure supply chains and reduce U.S. reliance on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for minerals that are inputs for critical technologies, including through increased government support to U.S. private sector companies investing and operating in critical mineral projects.
This is the latest step that the Intelligence Committee leaders have taken to counter China’s dominance of this growing industry. Last month, Sens. Warner and Rubio hosted government officials and domestic industry leaders for a roundtable discussion on access to critical minerals.
In a letter to the Biden administration, the senators highlighted the exploding demand of critical minerals and their growing importance to U.S. national security, while pointing out the U.S. is falling behind its adversaries in efforts to secure the global critical mineral supply chain.
The senators wrote, “Demand for critical minerals is growing exponentially, yet the U.S. substantially lags behind its adversaries in securing critical mineral supply chains. In fact, in many cases China controls nearly 100 percent of the end-to-end supply chain, and is actively seeking to maintain and increase its control of these resources around the globe.”
Outlining key areas where improvement is needed to expand domestic capabilities, the senators requested that the administration take a series of steps to ensure U.S. support to domestic industry, to strengthen internal coordination across government agencies, and to formulate a strategy for U.S. collaboration with our allies, to combat China’s growing dominance in this space.
They continued, “Focusing the efforts of the U.S. government, in coordination with our allies, upon standing up processing, refining, and metallurgical capacity must be a priority if we are going to succeed in reducing our reliance on China for critical minerals.”
Sens. Warner and Rubio were joined in this letter by U.S. Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), James Lankford (R-OK), Chris Coons (D-DE), Mike Rounds (R-SD), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
In a separate letter to Reta Jo Lewis, Chair of Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), Sens. Warner and Rubio advocated for the prioritization of EXIM’s projects to secure critical mineral supply chains both domestically and in allied and partner nations, in order to reduce dependence on China.
The senators wrote, “Given the national security and economic implications of critical mineral supply chains, U.S. government agencies and institutions – including EXIM – must better align efforts to support the establishment of supply chains that serve our interests and are independent of the influence and control of the PRC.”
In order to ensure that appropriate steps to prioritize critical mineral projects are being taken, the senators requested EXIM seek approval from their board of directors to invest in relevant projects, develop a strategy to coordinate with the private sector engaged in this space, and notify Congress of any additional resources or fixes needed to better support critical mineral projects.
They concluded, “The stakes of our economic struggle with the PRC demands that we reduce our dependence on them in critical technology sectors and for critical goods, especially those with defense and energy applications.”