Global Times recently reported that, in order to make its rare earths supply “self-sufficient,” the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) invoked “without hesitation” the Defense Production Act of 1950. This new decision was to improve and speed up the U.S. domestic rare earths development effort. The U.S. military depends heavily on rare earths for manufacturing weaponry. For example, to build an F-35 fighter jet, the manufacturer needs 417 kilograms (around 919 pounds) of rare earths. To make a Virginia Grade nuclear submarine, the rare earth consumption level is four tons. Presently, direct imports from China fulfill eighty percent of the U.S. rare earths demand. In the meantime, the remaining twenty percent of the U.S. consumption depends on indirect imports from China via other countries. The Defense Production Act allows the U.S. President to require businesses to accept government contracts, to expand production scale, and to prioritize production material pricing and allocation for national defense purposes.
Source: Global Times, October 7, 2020