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are used in radar systems and guided missiles. They’re also essential to clean-energy technologies, such as wind turbines and electric cars. Smartphone technology, military hardware, and clean energy — three growing sectors that are inextrica- bly linked to rare minerals — help explain why demand for rare-earth elements is exploding. Former mine owner turned rare-


earth consultant Jim Kennedy says U.S. dependence on other countries to supply materials vital for high-tech applications should set off alarms in the Pentagon — but instead “it plays like bad elevator music,” Kennedy tells Newsmax. Rare-earth elements are usually


found embedded in rock in small concentrations, mak- ing them difficult to isolate. Rarer still is the ability to separate the elements in a non- hazardous way. Rare-earth facili-


ties that extract the minerals have report- edly poisoned water supplies and ruined farmlands.


Companies natu-


duction. But other countries moved in to snap up the supply. According to InvestingNews.com,


China accounted for 80 percent of the world’s rare-earth production in 2017. The United States has ade- quate supplies of the minerals, but the permitting process is singularly burdensome. For example, the federal govern-


Smartphones, military


ment’s process for securing the nec- essary mine permits for tungsten and tantalum, two elements essen- tial for auto production, currently takes close to a decade. In Australia and Canada, mine permitting takes just two to three years, according to Dr. Ned Mamula, a geoscientist and adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute’s Center for the Study of Science. In December, the


hardware, and clean energy are critically dependent


rally want to reduce the amount of rare-earth elements they use in their products. Toyota recently announced it had found a way to reduce its use of the rare-earth material neodymium by 20 percent in the batteries used to power its electric cars. It did so, however, by using more lanthanum and cerium instead, two other rare earths that are less expen- sive, and in greater supply — for now. The value of rare earths was discovered in 1982, when General Motors used them to create the world’s strongest magnet that would remain magnetized, known as a “per- manent magnet.” As recently as 1990, the United States led the world in rare earth pro-


on rare-earth minerals.


Trump administra- tion issued a direc- tive designed to open up the lands and streamline permits. The same spirit of technological inno- vation that fueled the spiraling demand for rare-earth elements may also help amelio- rate it. University of Kentucky research-


ers announced in November they’ve developed a technology to extract rare earths from coal. If so, America as the nation with the largest coal reserves in the world would stand to benefit. The scientists say they took coal and extracted rare earth ele- ments that are 98 percent pure. The next step, they say, will be to build a plant for extraction. That could hap- pen as early as this spring. Until that technology matures,


however, Mamula thinks the answer to U.S. mineral woes might be right underneath Americans’ feet. “If we had a pro-mining policy, we could make America a mineral-exporting superpower,” he says. “We have the minerals here. Let’s mine them.”


Why Aren’t Alarm Bells Ringing? It’s All About Politics


BY STEPHEN MOORE W


hy is the United States reliant on China and Russia for strategic


minerals when we have more of these valuable resources than both these nations combined? This has nothing to do with


geological impediments. It is all politics. As recently as 1990, the United


States was No. 1 in the world in mining output. But according to the latest data from the U.S. Geological Survey, the United States is 100 percent import dependent for at least 20 critical and strategic minerals. Fortunately, the Trump


administration is working to reverse decades of policies that have inhibited our ability to mine our own abundant resources, mostly in Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, and the Dakotas. Last December the Trump


administration issued a long-overdue policy directive designed to open up federal lands and streamline the permitting process so America can mine again.


No nation on the planet is more richly endowed with a treasure chest of these metals than the United States. The U.S. Mining Association estimates there are more than $6 trillion in resources. We could very easily add $50 billion


of GDP every year through a smart mining policy. That’s billion with a “B.” Environmentalists are at once


threatening lawsuits and throwing up obstacles to this pro-economic development mineral policy. The stupidity of this anti-mining stance is that the green energy sources that they crave — solar and wind power — are dependent on rare metals to be viable. China’s leaders have been known to


boast that the Middle East has the oil and China has the rare earth minerals. But that’s false. We do. With a pro-mining policy, we can


make America a mineral-exporting superpower, not an importer reliant on our adversaries.


MAY 2018 | NEWSMAX 25


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