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3/19/2017 by mdc
Shane Lasley reports that a Swiss investment fund with ties to Russia-born billionaire Vladimir Iorich has put in a bid to buy the shuttered Mountain Pass rare earth-element mine in California, raising red flags for U.S. lawmakers concerned about the U.S. dependence on foreign countries for REEs and other metals necessary to maintain the U.S. military high-tech arsenal.

To help promote domestic production of these strategic metals and block foreign firms from buying rare earth mines on U.S. soil, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, introduced the Materials Essential to American Leadership and Security, or Metals, Act to the House.

Ducan said that the U.S. must no longer be wholly dependent on foreign sources of strategic and critical materials. The risk of this dependence on national security is too great and it urgently demands that we re-establish U.S. depleted domestic industrial base.

If passed, this legislation could be advantageous for Ucore Rare Metals, which has a rare-earth element project in Southeast Alaska and is developing a system to recover strategic metals from other domestic sources.

The act promotes the development of a domestic industrial base for the production of strategic and critical materials, and is in direct keeping with our present objective of establishing a U.S.-based strategic metals complex, Ucore President and CEO Jim McKenzie said in a statement of support for the Metals Act.

The Metals Act is designed to level this playing field for U.S. companies hoping to produce these metals in the United States through the creation of the Strategic Materials Investment Fund, which would provide five-year, interest-free loans to companies that succeed in developing new production or manufacturing techniques for strategic and critical materials.

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