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RESTART Act: Proposal To Revive US Rare Earth Supply Chain Introduced Into US Congress

I am presently attending the Technology Rare Earth Metals (TREM’10) meeting in Washington D.C. . So far the event has been very lively and there have been numerous discussions on all aspects of the supply chain for rare earths, lithium and other metals.

A story which broke this afternoon, of major significance to the industry, is the news that Congressman Mike Coffman, a Republican Representative from Colorado, earlier today introduced a new bill to the US House, “to address the looming rare earths crisis“. The proposed legislation is House Resolution 4866, the Rare Earths Supply-Chain Technology and Resources Transformation Act of 2010 (RESTART Act) [1], and although it shares a name with a related prior draft proposal that was circulating recently, it is a distinctly different approach for taking on the issues that the rare earth supply chain faces in the US. The Act would require that the United States develop a policy to:

“take any and all actions necessary to ensure the reintroduction of a competitive domestic rare earth supply chain, to include the reintroduction of the capacity to conduct mining, refining / processing, alloying and manufacturing operations using domestic suppliers to provide a secure source of rare earth materials as a vital component of national security and economic policy.”

Per the United States Magnet Materials Association [2], the RESTART Act would specifically initiate a number of key activities:

In an accompanying news release, Rep. Coffman said that:

“The U.S. needs to support and encourage the development of a competitive, domestic rare earth supply chain to support American jobs and manufacturing and ensure our national defense interests. This legislation is critical to creating a competitive, domestic rare earth supply chain in the U.S. over the next 5 years. We have ample resources, just not the ability to access and process them. That must change; our national security depends on it.”

Rep. Coffman is scheduled to open the second day of sessions here at TREM’10 tomorrow with a keynote address, and will no doubt touch on the RESTART Act. On or before April 1, 2010, the Government Accountability Office is required to complete a report on the extent to which the defense supply chain is currently dependent upon rare earths; it was Rep. Coffman who introduced the specific language required this report, into last year’s Defense Authorization Bill.

You can see the proposed RESTART Act by clicking here [1].

[First published at RareMetalBlog.]