Since the days of the Jimmy Carter administration and the oil crisis in the 1970s, the United States has attempted to achieve energy independence.

But successive oil crises, turbulence in oil prices, and the global transition to clean energy have shown that Washington will never be able to achieve true energy independence by relying solely on fossil energy sources.

In a report published by the American oilprice website, writer Alex Kimani pointed out that most Americans believe that the government should "focus on developing alternative sources of energy instead of relying primarily on fossil energy sources", with the aim of curbing climate change.

At a time when the transition to clean and renewable energy is gaining momentum, the United States faces another dilemma that is almost completely subordinate to China in relation to the rare metals, which it uses to build clean energy systems.

China provides 80% of the United States' needs for rare metals used in the manufacture of solar panels, windmills, electric car batteries, cell phones, computer equipment, national defense systems, medical equipment, and even in the oil and gas technology industry.

This situation puts the United States in a dangerous position, especially in light of the ongoing trade tensions between the two countries.

And at the height of the trade war last year, the Chinese president’s visit to the rare-earth magnet factory raised doubts about the possibility of China cutting supplies of these vital materials to the United States and the potential paralysis of large sectors of industries that could result.

The United States is starting to feel China's stranglehold on the industry as Biden prepares to enter the White House, and the odds of implementing his ambitious green deal increase.

Great dependence

Rare minerals are known as "chemistry vitamins", a group of elements used in the manufacture of various equipment using limited quantities with effective effectiveness.

Rare metals (such as lanthanum, neodymium, praseodymium, gadolinium, europium) are widely used in the manufacture of smartphones, batteries, lasers, and electromagnetic guns, as well as in the manufacture of missiles, advanced weapon sensors, stealth technology, jamming techniques, and other equipment. Sensitive necessary.

China accounted for the production of more than 90% of the world's needs of these elements over the past decade, noting that this percentage fell to 71.4% last year.

In 2018, the US Geological Survey identified 35 rare minerals important to the country's economy and national security.

America relies heavily on imports of these minerals, because it produces only a tenth of the world's supplies, while it imports half of what it consumes.

This deep dependence reflects the weakness of the United States and may increase China's hegemony in the future.

The global rare metals industry is expected to double from $ 8.1 billion in 2018 to $ 14.4 billion in 2025, at a time when the demand for electric vehicles, cell phones and electronic chips increases.

In anticipation of this explosive growth, Biden has pledged to build more than 500,000 new charging stations for electric cars by 2030, which now number 26,000.

Defeat of China

The writer pointed out that China's control of these resources does not necessarily mean that it is a "trump card in its hand," as the "Global Times" newspaper claimed.

On the contrary, the United States is in fact in a strong position to undermine China's control over this industry and achieve independence in the field of rare metals.

Biden is well aware of this challenge, which is why he pledged to support the increasing exploration of lithium, copper, nickel and other rare metals to provide the nation with the minerals needed to make solar panels, wind turbines and electric vehicles.

The United States government has intensified its efforts to expand the prospect of rare metals.

It also provides an encouraging framework for investment in the exploitation and development of rare metals by providing tax incentives to companies that invest in this field.

The writer emphasized that the United States is not completely lacking in basic rare minerals.

For example, Mount Bear Lodge in the state of Wyoming provides 18 million tons of rare earths, which is enough to supply the country for years.

If China bans the export of these resources to the United States without prior notice, the country can count on other countries as Japan did a decade ago, or it can recycle used metals.


Although the recycling process remains very limited at the present time, the capabilities of the United States in this area are promising, as the recycling rate could develop from 1% to 20% and even 40%, which is equivalent to 5% of its needs of these minerals, or nearly Half of the annual mine production is in the United States, according to a paper published in 2014.

According to Simon Jowett, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, the United States can recycle more than 40 percent of rare metals, depending on the adoption rates of technologies such as electric vehicles.

But the writer believes that recycling this amount of rare metals is not easy.

Recycling a variety of electronics will not necessarily provide enough of the rare metals.

In many cases, manufacturers are not usually responsible for carrying out recycling operations, which means that they may be ignorant of the nature of the ingredients these materials contain.

In the field of rare metals, the United States needs to follow the European approach, as the European Union's "Electrical Waste and Electronic Equipment Directive" not only requires manufacturers of electronic devices to recycle these devices or finance this process, but also requires vendors to provide a waste collection service. Electronic is for free.