The likelihood of another rare earth crisis like the one in 2010 within the next five years is very high, according to Mark A. Smith, CEO and executive chairman of NioCorp Developments Ltd. China, the top producer of rare earths, could bring the U.S. military to a standstill in a minute if the looming supply crisis is not resolved, the executive said in a guest contribution to FoxNews.
Advanced technologies, as well as most major weapons systems, require the critical raw materials. Therefore, he said, it is necessary to promote domestic mining more and build a complete value chain for these minerals in the United States. This is especially true, he says, for projects that are “shovel-ready” through prior exploration, available environmental permits and other factors. Unsurprisingly, Smith counts his own venture, the Elk Creek Critical Minerals Project in Nebraska, among them,
Smith was CEO of Molycorp, then operator of the Mountain Pass Mine, from 2008 until late 2012. Once the world’s most important source of rare earths, its importance declined rapidly in the late 1990s due to Chinese competition; it is now seen as central to efforts for greater independence from China.