Pentagon steps up inventory on rare earth magnets to shake off its dependence on Chinese imports. According to the Reuters report on December 20 that the U.S. military plans to stockpile rare earth magnets (NdFeB), a type of rare earth magnet essential to weapons manufacturing. Responses to this latest Pentagon request are due by January 22, 2020, to store six-month cemented carbide tool neodymium-iron-boron rare earth magnets in turns and store them for at least 30 months to weaken China's control of the rare earth magnet industry.
It is reported that China and Japan are the largest producers of NdFeB magnet in the world. The processing patent for this magnet belongs to Hitachi Metals of Japan, which issues production licenses to Chinese manufacturers, which are still the world's cheapest rare-earth magnet manufacturers. Hitachi Metals expanded a NdFeB magnet plant in China Grove, North Carolina, in 2011. And shuttered the operations around 2015 due to challenging economics. The equipment is being auctioned off now. Therefore, rare earth magnets are not produced directly in the US. Texas Mining's Urban Mining is processing recycled rare-earth magnets.Carbide Rods Double Holes
The US rare earth industry is accelerating the pace of rare earth processing. Reuters said that Texas Mineral Resources Corp and USA Rare Earth announced that they will jointly invest 10 to 12 million U.S. dollars to build a rare earth experimental processing plant near the industrial consulting and research institute in Colorado, and sign contracts with the client accordingly, hoping to produce about one hundred kilograms of rare earth per year by 2020. Once the funding is received, the plant will be relocated to a mine near Round Top in western Texas in 2021 to achieve full production of rare earths by 2023.
The Mountain Pass rare earth mine in California is currently controlled by a hedge fund, is building its rare earth processing equipment and hopes to have it online by next tungsten carbide rods year.
The Pentagon also plans to provide funding to eligible domestic rare earth companies to help build processing plants of rare earth magnets and extended the deadline to apply for funding three times. "We don't want to sit and wait," said Pini Althaus, chief executive of USA Rare Earth, told Reuters, "There's a sense of urgency around the need for a (rare earths) processing facility that's not in China."