The COVID-19 pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in the global supply chain for critical goods and minerals, which are used to produce semiconductors and other critical technologies.
- Rare-earth elements are essential to produce many high-tech devices—cell phones, computer hard drives, electric and hybrid vehicles, and flat-screen monitors and televisions—as well as components of defense systems.
- As China began to dominate the global market and to limit exports for rare-earth elements in the early 2000s, the United States and other countries have sought to increase their own domestic mining and refining capabilities. Currently, there is only one active rare-earth mine in the United States.
- The U.S. must pursue multiple and geographically diverse supply options to create a secure supply chain for critical minerals.
America’s future technological innovation increasingly will be dependent upon reliable access to secure supplies of certain key minerals and other strategic materials.