House Committee Establishes Working Group to Counter China’s Control of Critical Mineral Supply Chains

Juliet Song
By Juliet Song
June 19, 2024Congress

A bipartisan working group to counter China’s dominance in critical mineral supply chains was formed by the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, the panel said on June 18.

The Critical Minerals Policy Working Group will be responsible for producing legislation and promoting awareness via committee events to combat the CCP’s dominance in critical minerals.

“Critical minerals are the building blocks of everything from basic consumer goods to advanced military technology. America’s reliance on the Chinese Communist Party’s control of the critical mineral supply chain would quickly become an existential vulnerability in the event of a conflict,” Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Mich.), the committee’s chairman, said in a statement.

“The CCP has already weaponized its monopoly on some minerals by imposing export restrictions on rare earth elements like gallium, germanium, and graphite, as well as mineral processing equipment.”

Reps. Moolenaar and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), the committee’s ranking Democrat member, announced the working group’s formation. Mr. Moolenaar said he set up the group to “help Congress declare independence from CCP-controlled supply chains.”

The group will start by basing its work on a December 2023 report from the committee titled “Reset, Prevent, Build: A Strategy to Win America’s Economic Competition with the Chinese Communist Party.” The report made nearly 150 recommendations to Congress, outlining a strategy to “fundamentally reset the United States’ economic and technological competition” with the Chinese communist regime.

“These recommendations will reset the terms of our relationship with [China], prevent the flow of American capital and technology from supporting its military advances and human rights abuses, and build collective economic resilience in concert with our allies and partners while ensuring American leadership for decades to come,” the committee said in a statement at the time.

The group will focus on increasing transparency about the nation’s dependence on the critical mineral supply chain and “develop a package of proposed investments, regulatory reforms, and tax incentives to reduce that dependency,” according to a June 18 statement.

“Dominance over global supply chains for critical mineral and rare earth elements is the next stage of great power competition,” Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) said in a statement. “We must secure American access to these materials that are integral to the technology we rely on in our daily lives and for our national defense.”

Reps. Wittman and Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) will lead the working group, which includes Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), Haley Stevens (D-Mich.), Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.), Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), and Ben Cline (R-Va.).

In February, Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, introduced the Countering Communist China Act, calling it “the largest and most comprehensive legislation” ever proposed in Congress to address the CCP threat. Among various critical areas of U.S. national security, the measure also seeks to cut off U.S. reliance on Chinese critical minerals, including a proposal to categorize uranium as a critical mineral and ban foreign companies from mining it on federal lands.

China’s Critical Mineral Dominance

Last year, the Chinese regime imposed export restrictions on critical minerals amid tensions with the West. In December, Beijing told traders to report real-time export information on rare earths in a bid to control the supply chain of critical minerals.

China dominates the global supply chain of rare earths. In 2022, China accounted for 70 percent of global rare earth mining, up from 59 percent in 2021, according to data compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

From 2018 to 2021, China was responsible for 74 percent of rare earths imported by the United States, down from 80 percent between 2014 and 2017, the USGS data show.

In July 2023, Beijing unveiled a plan to curb exports of two rare minerals for manufacturing semiconductors—gallium and germanium—in apparent retaliation to the United States and other Western countries over their efforts to limit China’s access to advanced chips.

China accounts for 80 percent of the world’s gallium production and 60 percent of germanium, according to the Critical Raw Materials Alliance.

China also dominates the global supply chain for lithium batteries, controlling 70 percent of total global manufacturing capacity, according to a 2022 report by OneCharge, a U.S.-based lithium battery manufacturer.

Dorothy Li contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times