Pentagon relies on Russia and China for critical mineral — Analysis

An alliance of US lawmakers from each party is proposing to increase funding for the Pentagon to replenish the depleted inventory of strategic minerals. They are alarmed at the fact that most antimony used in American defense industries comes from China. It is vital for the manufacture of batteries, ammunition and semiconductors.

House Armed Services Committee “is concerned about recent geopolitical dynamics with Russia and China and how that could accelerate supply chain disruptions, particularly with antimony,”A Wednesday report stated this.

In order to create bearings or lead-acid battery, antimony can be combined with tin, lead, and tin. It can also be found in semiconductor devices. Defense News reports that it can be used in military applications, including explosives and bullets as well as night vision goggles and nuclear weapons.

“China is the largest producer of mined and refined antimony and a major source of imports for the United States,”According to a report from the US Geological Survey in 2020, there are no known geological hazards. “no domestic mine for antimony.”

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An Idaho goldmine was the last known domestic supplier of antimony. It closed its doors in 1997. It was the US’s alternative source for antimony during World War II, when Japan imposed restrictions on imports.

However, China has recently lost market share to Russia – currently under a US embargo – and nearby Tajikistan. 

“Our military should not be dependent on the very adversaries we are preparing to defend ourselves from,”Scott Franklin, a Republican from Florida, said that he was joining forces with Seth Moulton (D.Massachusetts), to ask for $254 million more for the National Defense Stockpile.

Stockpile “is no longer capable of covering the Department of Defense’s needs for the vast majority of identified materials in the event of a supply chain disruption,”In a letter, the legislators stated their views.

According to Defense News, as of last year the government’s hoard of rare minerals was worth $888 million. This is mainly due to Washington selling off these rare minerals for many decades in order to finance other military programs. It was valued at $42 billion by 2022 in its peak in 1952. The antimony is not the only thing it has. It also contains titanium, cobalt, and other important military minerals. But Congress worries that it might run out before 2025.

A bill draft currently in the HASC process would call for the Pentagon to provide Congress with a copy “a five-year outlook of these minerals and current and future supply chain vulnerabilities,”Implement a recycling policy for batteries that have been used to make them usable again. “precious metals, rare earth minerals and elements of strategic importance (such as cobalt and lithium) into the supply chain or strategic reserves”The US.



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