An investor group that allegedly has ties to the Chinese government in June purchased the rare earth mine in Mountain Pass, California that was one of the final remaining assets of the now bankrupt Molycorp Inc. The mine is one of the very few not already controlled by China, which accounts for 97 percent of the global rare-earth mineral production.
“By buying up Mountain Pass, the Chinese have locked up the only operating rare earth mining operation outside of China,” said Michael Silver, chief executive of American Elements Corp., in an interview with Breitbart News about his White House meetings.
China’s control of rare earth mining has implications for the U.S. military. According to a 2016 Government Accountability Office study, certain rare earth materials are “essential to the production, sustainment, and operation of U.S. military equipment.” Critical military uses include rare earths employed in antimissile defense systems, precision-guided weapons, lasers, communications systems, night vision equipment, satelites and military aircraft.
“Reliable access to the necessary material…is a bedrock requirement for the [Department of Defense],” the GAO wrote.
The GAO found that the Defense Department lacked any comprehensive plan for how to deal with “potential supply disruptions.”