US loses ‘apatite’ for Chinese rare-earth minerals
7 Jun 2019 - by
Every day brings a new twist to the trade tension between the US and China, with the latest development striking deep at the heart of America’s military-industrial character, forcing the super power to turn to minor African countries for help.
This comes after the US Department of Defence announced it was in talks with Mkango Resources in Malawi and Rainbow Rare Earths in Burundi to replace China as America’s biggest supplier of rare-earth minerals.
Minerals like aeschynite, allanite and apatite – and those are just the ones topping the alphabet – are used in technology and war craft products of a certain nature and, to date, have been predominantly imported by the US from China.
China only has about one third of the world’s rare-earth resources but is the dominant player when it comes to extraction, processing and trade of the list of some 17 such minerals.
Having supplied at least 80% of America’s rare-earth requirements, that figure is tipped to drastically decrease with the announcement that the US is now looking elsewhere for its military mineral requirements.
Jason Nie, materials engineer with the Pentagon’s logistics agency responsible for rare-earth mineral imports, confirmed they were in discussion with financiers to possibly shift to Burundi or Malawi – or both – for what the US used to get from China.