12 July 2012 19:22 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US manufacturers on Thursday urged quick action by Congress to revive domestic production of rare earth elements (REEs), warning that critical shortages and rising prices for those raw materials threaten industry and jobs.
In letters to all members of Congress, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) urged prompt approval for HR-4402, the “National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act”, which would give rare earth elements a priority designation under federal law for accelerated permitting by federal, state and local governments.
“Manufacturers are facing a shrinking supply and record demand for essential rare earth minerals,” said Aric Newhouse, ?xml:namespace>
“We have these resources in the
“This burdensome bureaucratic process is a big reason
He said that HR-4402 would cut red tape, which has slowed domestic production to a halt, and allow renewed mining of the critical materials sooner.
The 17 chemical and mineral substances known as rare earths are crucial to refining, petrochemicals production and other industries, such as manufacture of weapons and space systems, lasers and fibre optic communications, to name but a few applications.
Despite the name, rare earth elements are not actually rare – most of them are found in almost any soil around the world – but extremely rare are those areas in which these substances can be found in concentrations that make mining them commercially feasible.
At present, there are only two places in the world other than
Newhouse warned that failure to secure access to rare earth minerals at a reasonable cost will place more US manufacturing jobs in jeopardy.
Rare earth elements and other critical minerals are critical to wide range of manufactured products, including renewable energy products, magnets, chemicals, refrigeration systems, catalysts for petroleum refining, defence applications, consumer electronics, hybrid car batteries and many more.
HR-4402 would require that a single lead agency with regulatory over rare earths mining and production help coordinate permitting approval with other federal, state or local government agencies, and it would reduce what NAM termed frivolous lawsuits.
Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy
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