According to the Australian professional mining media MINING.COM reported on June 29th, Energy Fuels, the only uranium processing company in the United States, is studying how to separate uranium and rare earth ores from mixed ores and smelt commercial rare earth products. The company’s CEO said that if this project is successfully developed, it can change the situation in which US commercial rare earth products rely heavily on imports.
It is reported that the US rare earth products are heavily dependent on imports. The US Geological Survey’s “Summary of Mineral Products 2019” shows that the US’s net import dependence on rare earths in 2018 was 100%. In addition, relevant US experts said that the United States has been importing a large amount of rare earth products from China, and related US departments have expressed concern about this. Since the current US president came to power, he has been working to reduce his dependence on Chinese rare earths and turned to other rare earth exporting countries such as Australia. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on November 19 last year, the United States and the Australian government signed an agreement on the same day, announcing to strengthen cooperation between the two sides in rare earth resources.
Why the US rare earth has always been dependent on imports, does the US have no rare earth? In fact, the United States ranks third in global rare earth resources. According to data from the US Geological Survey in 2015, the world’s rare earth reserves are about 130 million tons (in terms of REO), of which China is 55 million tons, Brazil is 22 million tons, and the United States is 13 million tons. But the United States lacks the technology to smelt rare earth, so its rare earth resources cannot be exploited. As a major rare earth country, China occupies 70% of global rare earth production, and 80% of the rare earth in the United States comes from China. From this point of view, it is not easy for the United States to reduce the import of rare earths to China.
It is worth noting that China and the United States have maintained good trade relations. According to data from relevant departments in my country, in 2019, the import and export volume of bilateral trade between China and the United States reached 558.87 billion US dollars (about 3.95 trillion RMB). In addition, when the epidemic is severe, my country is actively purchasing soybeans from the United States. The US Department of Agriculture said on June 11 that as of the week of the 4th, 337,000 tons of soybeans were sold to China in the United States.
However, the relevant US departments have recently adopted a series of restrictive measures against Chinese enterprises. According to a report by the Russian Satellite News Agency on June 29, the US has planned to restrict 20 Chinese companies. These actions of the country are undoubtedly detrimental to the economic and trade exchanges between China and the United States, including rare earths. The United States may need to take correct measures to strengthen technical and economic cooperation with other countries, which may be beneficial to the long-term economic development of the country.